Heat's road woes could play to Bulls' advantage in playoffs

703426.png

Heat's road woes could play to Bulls' advantage in playoffs

CHICAGO - Chris Bosh admitted prior to Thursday's Bulls-Heat matchup that if it came down to a Game 7 between the two powerhouses in the Eastern Conference Finals, he would rather have home-court advantage.

That possibility crept further away after the Bulls' 96-86 overtime victory over Miami at the United Center.

The Heat now sit at 40-17, four games behind the 45-14 Bulls in the bid for the No. 1 seed in the East. Miami has nine games remaining, Chicago has seven.

"Mathematically, we have a chance, but it looked better this morning," Bosh said after the game. "We just have to really put that behind our minds and just focus on tomorrow. Game 7 is a long ways away. We just have to stick with what we're doing."

The Bulls earned home-court advantage throughout the playoffs last season, but it didn't wind up mattering against the Heat. After claiming Game 1 in Chicago, the Bulls then lost four straight, including two in the United Center.

However, it may have more of an impact this year. The Heat have won just three of their last 11 road games and it's starting to get to them.

"Today would have been a great turnaround, but we're just going to have to wait longer," Bosh said. "We can't do anything about it. It is what it is. We just have to move forward and figure this thing out together.

"We're going to get this thing done. We're going to figure it out. We can't change anything right now. We're stuck in this position and we've been here for a while. We're just going to have to keep our heads up and get the job done."

Dwyane Wade echoed his teammates' thoughts.

"We'll keep pushing through it," he said. "It's not all good. It's not perfect, but that's sports. That's this game. I've been here nine years, and no team has ever been perfect. We've all gone through lows and we just have to correct it."

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra isn't too concerned, however.

"It's OK," he said after Thursday's game. "We understand what we're playing for. Things change very quickly in this league. Just like this game, if we could have pulled it out in regulation. It changes in matter of 24 hours."

Miami is 0-2 in Chicago this season and most are expecting these two teams to match up in the Eastern Conference Finals once again.

If that happens, a Game 7 is not a stretch at all.

The Bulls and Heat have been evenly matched all season. Before Thursday's overtime period, each team had scored exactly 283 points in 12 quarters of head-to-head play. However, the reigning MVP, Derrick Rose, has contributed just two points in the last two games combined.

If the Heat can't correct their road woes by that late in the playoffs, the Bulls could have the edge.

"There is no easy win," Spoelstra said. "What we're trying to do will be the hardest thing that we have to do collectively as professionals. There are several legitimate teams that are contending for this one title. There will not be an easy road. And right now, we're dealing with that tough road."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

yoan-moncada-0524.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

There's a lot of buzz around the future of the White Sox.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti joined SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss the team's exciting young prospects and how soon they'll be making their way to the South Side.

Also joining Pat Boyle on this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast are the Tribune's David Haugh, Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and WGN Radio's Sam Panayotovich.

The guys also react to Mike Glennon's recent comments and Kevin White’s uncertain status at OTAs.

Plus, they wonder if Kyle Schwarber has finally found his spot in the Cubs' lineup.

Take a listen to the latest episode below:

Preview: Confident Fire face tough test vs. FC Dallas Thursday on CSN

Preview: Confident Fire face tough test vs. FC Dallas Thursday on CSN

The Chicago Fire are on a three-game winning streak, but those wins have come against struggling teams. FC Dallas, Thursday’s opponent, provides a different level of opposition.

Dallas won the Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup last year and was the last team in Major League Soccer to lose this season, only getting knocked off for the first time Saturday against San Jose.

The Fire host Dallas at Toyota Park on CSN with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live. The Fire (6-3-3, 21 points) have more points, but Dallas (5-1-4, 19 points) has played two fewer games.

“You can test yourself against one of the best teams in the league and kind of gauge where you’re at,” Fire defender Brandon Vincent said. “We’re confident and we want to go out there and battle with them.”

Vincent has been part of a defense that has two straight shutouts, although those came against the two-worst goal-scoring teams in the league in Colorado and D.C. Dallas’ attack isn’t the most prolific in the league (14 goals in 10 games), but is very dangerous on the counter.

“They have a ton of attacking talent,” goalkeeper Matt Lampson said. “They’re actually just a solid team throughout and we expect a very hard game, but we are a completely different team. I think we’ve started to prove that and it’s going to be a very good game.”

While the defense will be busy containing Maxi Urruti (6 goals, 2 assists), midfielder Kellyn Acosta has been a crucial two-way player for Dallas. The 21-year-old has become a key player in the middle with playmaker Mauro Diaz, who was third in MLS with 13 assists last year, still out with an Achilles tendon injury.

Dallas has allowed the fewest goals in the league this season, seven through 10 games. Both centerbacks, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman, have emerged as national team prospects for the U.S.

Dallas has the talent, experience and credentials of a top team. The Fire are new to being a contender. Vincent and Lampson, both in their second years with the Fire, said they haven’t seen the team have this much confidence since they joined the team.

“This is something special,” Lampson said. “That just proves that guys like Juninho, Dax (McCarty) and Bastian (Schweinsteiger) coming in, the culture has completely changed and we have guys who will do anything to win. When you have every guy on the team that’s like that, then you’re going to get results, you’re going to have confidence when you play well and everybody on the field is going to play for each other.”

Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

TV: CSN Chicago

When: Coverage begins 7 p.m. Thursday with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (6-3-3, 21 points), FCD (5-1-4, 19 points)