MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Chicago Bulls was a trendy pick in the offseason as the team that can best challenge the two-time defending champion Miami Heat this year. The Bulls found out on opening night that taking out the Heat is going to be much tougher than they originally thought.

While much of the hoopla surrounding the opening game, at least outside of Miami, was on the return of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose; the Miami Heat left little doubt in anyone’s eyes that the NBA championship will once again run through South Florida.

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The Heat, powered mainly by the team’s bench players, blew open the game with a 17-0 run and never looked back again on the way to a 107-95 victory over the Bulls.

“You never know what to expect when you’re trying to keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But you can’t deny the emotions and what a special moment it was for everybody in the organization because we know how difficult that was and how harrowing that was last season.”

By halftime, Miami was rolling, up 54-33 — putting the game on pace for a 108-66 final, which would have exactly matched the score of the game in 2006 when Chicago came into Miami and spoiled the Heat franchise’s first ring night.

“It’s a team game,” James said. “That’s what this team is put together for.”

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One factor the Heat had to deal with on opening night was getting their championship rings from last year and raising the championship banner. In many ways, the Heat got exactly what they needed opening night, a celebration to bury last year and a victory to kick off the run for a three-peat.

The Heat did it without asking or getting much from the Big Three while also completely shutting down the returning Rose.

LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade combined to score 46 points on 16-35 shooting while all playing less than 38 minutes in the game. Overall, Miami had seven players in double figures and the team shot 51.4 percent and 55 percent from behind the 3-point line.

The Heat’s bench outscored the Bulls by a score of 42-26 led by Shane Battier’s 14 points on 5-6 shooting and 4-4 from downtown.

The Heat displayed a complete team effort on offense and defense and showed once again why they are the team to beat in the NBA in 2014.

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