Bulls vs. Heat: Health is the top priority as playoffs arrive

USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls are trying to strengthen their playoff position and attempting to beat the Heat again.

Few teams have played the Miami Heat as well as the Chicago Bulls have this season, and on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Miami, they will attempt to take the season series from Miami.

For more on the story, visit Hot Hot Hoops or Blog a Bull

Chicago (43-36) has won two of three against the Heat (63-16) this season, including beating Miami to end the team's 27-game winning streak on March 27. The Bulls come into the game with a chance to move into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with the Atlanta Hawks. If the Bulls finish in fifth, they'd likely face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Finishing sixth would mean a likely match-up with their division rival Indiana Pacers in the first round.

The Heat, who have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs wrapped up, have been selectively resting their stars. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh both returned to the lineup Friday. Wade had missed six games, Bosh had missed three and LeBron James has missed four of the last seven games. In the games James has played during that stretch, he has played 32 minutes or fewer.

Chicago's success against Miami has largely been a result of physical play, particularly against James. James has averaged 29 points per game against the Bulls this season, but Chicago has been successful in limiting the contributions of his teammates.

The Bulls also enter the game with injury concerns. Joakim Noah has played in just one of the team's last 12 games with a foot injury. Taj Gibson has missed six-straight games with an ankle injury. Luol Deng is playing through a shoulder injury. The Bulls will also be without Richard Hamilton, who was suspended for a game by the league for an elbow to the face of DeMar DeRozan Friday.

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