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Reply To: NBA • Friday Service Plays • 3/11/16

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Preview: Miami At Chicago

When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Miami has been thriving without forward Chris Bosh and the 11-time All-Star will again be sidelined when the Heat visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday. However, Bosh stated Thursday that he is not dealing with a repeat of last season’s blood clot issues and hopes to return in time to help the Heat make a playoff run.

Miami has closely guarded information regarding Bosh’s unspecified health issues while speculation has run rampant in NBA circles that he is still dealing with blood clots – also known as deep vein thrombosis – in his left leg. “I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again,” Bosh said in a statement. “My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis.” Chicago also has an injured star player as shooting guard Jimmy Butler has missed 12 of the past 13 games with a left knee injury and sought out a second opinion from renowned Dr. James Andrews on Thursday. Butler had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Saturday’s victory over the Houston Rockets but his sore knee flared up after the following day’s practice.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), WGN (Chicago)

ABOUT THE HEAT (37-27): Miami is 8-3 since Bosh went down with the blood clot issues and is holding on to fourth place in the tightly congested Eastern Conference playoff race. The Heat had to play the final 30 games of last season without Bosh so it was better adjusted to handle his absence this time around. Small forward Luol Deng has stepped up in Bosh’s absence with 13 straight double-digit outings and the addition of veteran swingman Joe Johnson has also proved timely as he is averaging 13.5 points in six games since joining the team.

ABOUT THE BULLS (32-31): Chicago has dropped five of seven games after losing 109-101 to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday to fall into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot. The Bulls are anxious to get Butler healthy as their caliber of play has dipped sharply during his absence and coach Fred Hoiberg said Butler was encouraged after meeting with Dr. Andrews. “I think the mental aspect is huge in something like this,” Hoiberg told reporters. “Jimmy went down and saw one of the best doctors in the world, that’s worked on a lot of athletes, and was told that everything looked structurally sound in there. That’s I think what he was looking to hear and wanted to hear.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Heat are 2-0 against the Bulls this season, winning by an average margin of 11.5 points.

2. Miami backup C Hassan Whiteside has recorded 10 straight double-digit rebounding efforts and is averaging 18.5 points and 15 rebounds during the stretch.

3. Chicago PG Derrick Rose (tailbone) scored 21 points against the Spurs for his second straight 20-point outing.

PREDICTION: Heat 103, Bulls 100