Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat hit the hardwood of the United Center Thursday night and by the end of the game against the Chicago Bulls had secured a ninth straight victory and served notice to the league that everyone should be very afraid when the Heat come to town.
The Heat only scored 86 points in the victory over the Bulls, but what should really make opposing coaches start to shake is the Heat’s defense is just now starting to get turned up as the team starts making preparations for the postseason.
Miami held Chicago to just 67 points in the game and allowed the Bulls to shoot just 37.3 percent from the field and 20 percent from behind the three-point line. On the flip side, Miami shot 50.7 percent from the field and had four players in double-figures, led by LeBron James’ 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists.
LeBron scored his 26 points on 73 percent shooting from the field all while taking just three free throws in the defensive struggle.
But where Miami excelled in the game against the Bulls was in turnovers. Miami forced the Bulls into 26 turnovers for the game to Miami’s 17 turnovers. The last thing any opponent needs to do is give the Heat easy points in transition through turnovers, but that’s what Miami is doing lately.
“We all had a vision of how this team was going to really operate together, but there is no limit,” Chris Bosh said. “We can continue to get better. We can continue to play better together. Our defense can continue to improve. If we want to win in the postseason, it’s going to have to.”
The Heat blew Oklahoma City, widely considered to be the top contender to the Heat, off the court in Oklahoma City before the All-Star break and then opened the second-half of the season with a victory in Atlanta and then Thursday’s dismantling of the Bulls.
“We’re putting together some good basketball right now,” James said. “We’re defending. We’re creating turnovers. We’re winning the turnover game offensively. We’re the best shooting team in the league … so if we don’t turn the ball over, we get good shots at the rim, we could also have a good chance to win.”
The Heat will close out the current road trip on Saturday with a game in Philadelphia against the 76ers. After that, Miami will get two games against two bad teams in the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings to close out February.
With only 30 games left in the regular season, Miami is rounding into shape for another championship run this season. It may be one of the final runs for the Heat as new luxury taxes next season and the possibility of LeBron James leaving after next season both become reality.
However, until then the Heat remain the toast of the league and appear poised to become repeat champions if they can continue to improve their team game this season.
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