The regular season is winding down, but the Miami Heat’s nastiest rivalry is just picking up steam. With the Knicks wallowing in mediocrity, bouncing between the eighth and seventh seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Heat needed a worthy opponent to compete with and properly hate. Then came last year, when the Chicago Bulls earned the best record in the league and had many people predicting the team end Miami’s run to the title with league MVP Derrick Rose leading the way. But when the Eastern Conference Finals came around, the Heat, led by LeBron James and his amazing feats of awesome, systematically obliterated Chicago in five games, rendering Rose useless with its defense and taking the East crown for itself. And so a rivalry was born. While the media and most fans outside the 305 continue to predict the Bulls will win the East this time around, the Heat knows those things are settled on the court and not by talking heads spewing nonsense on Twitter. There are only four regular-season games remaining after Thursday’s showdown with the Bulls at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) — their second meeting in five nights — and things are just starting to get nuts, because the playoffs loom and the only inevitable conclusion is a rematch between these two teams for the Eastern title.
Thu., April 19, 8 p.m., 2012