Chicago (1-1) at Miami (2-0)

Thunder Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 6:00 pm EST Sun Nov 1, 2009
  • TV: CSCH, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Jermaine O’Neal’s(notes) offseason training in Illinois seems to have paid off. The Chicago Bulls put in hard work there as well to prepare for the early season test they have endured.

O’Neal, looking strong in his first two games, leads the undefeated Heat into Sunday night’s matchup with a Bulls team that has had mixed results during a pair of tough matchups.

Miami (2-0) acquired O’Neal from Toronto in February, but sore knees impaired his play and he failed to get more than five rebounds in 14 of 27 regular-season games with the Heat.

O’Neal changed his diet and rehabbed over the summer in Chicago with Tim Grover, the former personal trainer of Michael Jordan, and this season has performed like the player that finished third in the league MVP voting in 2004.

O’Neal had 22 points and 12 rebounds in Miami’s 96-83 win over Indiana on Friday night, matching his stats from a 115-93 season-opening victory over New York on Wednesday night.

Against the Pacers, his former team, he was called for a technical for hanging on the rim after a dunk in the second quarter, but said that was more about having healthy knees than showing up Indiana.

“It was a little bit overboard, but it’s been a while since I’ve been able to just catch and take off,” O’Neal said. “I’m just showing you guys some of the work I’ve put together this summer.”

O’Neal posted consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound games for the first time since December 2007, when he was with Indiana.

The six-time All-Star is finally providing the Heat with a low-post presence to complement star guard Dwyane Wade(notes), who is averaging 29.0 points and 2.5 steals.

Wade, a Chicago native, averaged 39.5 points, 8.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in his last two games against the Bulls (1-1).

Chicago couldn’t keep up with Boston’s star-laden lineup in a 118-90 loss Friday night, the teams’ first meeting since the Celtics won a seven-game playoff series last spring that featured a record seven overtime periods.

The Bulls committed 15 turnovers after giving up the ball nine times in a 92-85 win over San Antonio in their opener Thursday night.

“I’m happy this is early in the season so we can come back and learn from it,” point guard Derrick Rose(notes) said. “I’m still trying to find my groove out there.”

Rose, last season’s Rookie of the Year, is averaging 11.5 points after posting 16.8 last season.

The Bulls, though, are getting promising play from third-year big man Joakim Noah(notes). He is averaging 13.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

Noah has been slow to develop after being selected ninth overall in the 2007 draft.

He averaged 7.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in last season’s series against the Heat, who won three of four meetings.

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Sunday, Nov 1