These are the matchups that true fans look forward to all year: rival games. For the past ten years, as the New York Knicks stank up the league, the Miami Heat were grinding their teeth against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls played spoiler to the Heat and swept Miami out of the 2007 NBA playoffs. And now there’s just a general aggravation caused by Joakim Noah’s face or Derrick Rose’s stick-up-the-butt attitude toward the game. It’s starting to get ugly. While Rose is still undergoing a public and commercialized recovery from knee surgery, the Bulls are somehow leading their division and will almost certainly make the playoffs this year. Coach Tom Thibodeau keeps his players frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs, but that tenacity usually does little more than annoy the NBA champs. Unfortunately, this season marks the Heat’s inability to get up for the big games, and they’re still showing signs of championship hangover. It’s time to bite back.
Fri., Jan. 4, 8 p.m., 2013