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Plus, it’s the start of a nine-game road stretch for Chicago, though this one in Miami is the only one generating any buzz right now.

“Everybody’s trying to blow the game up,” Rose said. “But we’re not worried about that.”

The Heat had 15 players available to choose from when setting a lineup Friday, the first time that’s happened this season.

Wade returned from a two-week absence because of a sprained right ankle to score 28 points in Miami’s 99-89 win over the New York Knicks, adding five steals, four assists and two blocks. James finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, already the fourth time this season he’s had that stat line or better.

It didn’t take long after Friday’s game for the Heat to start talking about Chicago.

“Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference going at it,” Wade said. “It’s always going to be a great battle when Chicago and the Heat play each other. We’ve got to get the first one on our home floor.”

The teams are different _ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said both are better _ than what was on the floor in last season’s East finals. Chicago clearly upgraded by adding Hamilton, and Miami’s rotation got deeper with the signing of Shane Battier.

The rivalry, however, remains.

“It’ll be a little different, but the principles are the same,” Wade said. “They live on their defense and obviously this year we’ve been scoring, but our defense is what wins games and hopefully one day wins championships for us.”


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