Dwyane Wade won three NBA titles in 13 seasons with the Miami Heat before departing for Chicago as a free agent last summer. Wade makes his first visit to South Beach as a visiting player when the Bulls battle Miami on Thursday.
Animosity with Heat president Pat Riley lingers from the breakdown in offseason negotiations that led to Wade returning to his hometown of Chicago. “I think you guys know I haven’t talked to him,” Wade told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s as simple as that. I think I’ve been very open and honest about my respect and love with Pat. I’ve been honest that I haven’t spoken to him since (last) season ended.” Wade scored 25 points on Wednesday but the Bulls lost 115-107 to the host Atlanta Hawks for their fourth loss in five games. Miami also has dropped four of its last five games after suffering a 97-85 road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Bulls opened as 1.5-road favorites over the Heat and that line has been bet up to 2. The total opened at 198 and was quickly bet up to 200. Check out the complete line history here.
Bulls – PG M. Carter-Williams (Early December, knee).
Heat – PF J. McRoberts (questionable Thursday, foot).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Bulls (-10) – Heat (-6) + home court (-3) = Heat +1
ABOUT THE BULLS (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS, 3-5 O/U): Wade, a 12-time All-Star, had his second-highest scoring output of the season while making 10-of-17 shots and contributing a season-best five steals in the loss to the Hawks. The 34-year-old is averaging 17.9 points, a distant second on the Bulls behind fellow All-Star guard Jimmy Butler (23.3), who is Chicago’s primary scoring option. Butler scored a season-high 39 points against Atlanta – his highest total since a career-best 53-point effort against Philadelphia last January – and also contributed seven assists and matched his career high of six steals.
ABOUT THE HEAT (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS, 3-3 O/U): While Riley may not give Wade the warmest of greetings, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has remained in contact with him and understands the importance of the occasion. “That will be a special moment,” Spoelstra told reporters while admitting it will be emotional for him. “It means a lot to all of us, including myself. We know how to compartmentalize.” Miami is still adapting to not having Wade and the current top scoring options are point guard Goran Dragic (18 points per game) and center Hassan Whiteside (17.5 points, team-best 13.8 rebounds).
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
• Bulls are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
• Bulls are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record.
• Heat are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
• Under is 4-0 in Bulls last 4 games playing on 0 days rest.
• Under is 4-0 in Heat last 4 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
• Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Miami.
COVER CONSENSUS: The road Bulls are picking up 61 percent of the early spread wagering on Cover in Dwyane Wade’s return to South Beach. The under is grabbing 52 percent of the totals action. View full consensus data here.