MIAMI -- Heat guard Dwyane Wade isn't surprised that the Chicago Bulls continue to have success despite the fact that they have lost Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee surgery and Luol Deng in a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"That's Chicago, man," Wade told reporters after his Heat beat the Bulls 93-79 on Sunday. "No matter what goes on, you got to give [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] a lot of credit. You've got to give those guys in that uniform a lot of credit. For no matter what happens, whenever it looks like things are going astray, they find a way to bring it back. Every night you play them, you have to respect them -- no matter who's on the court.
"We've found that out, and we've lost games where it looked like we shouldn't have lost to them. In the 27-game winning streak, I don't think no one thought we were going to lose that one, but we did. They're a very tough team. They play the game 100 percent all out. Those are gratifying wins [against the Bulls], no matter who's on the court, with the way that they play, when you can beat them."
The Heat snapped the Bulls' five-game winning streak, but Chicago remains in control of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 29-26 record.
The Bulls and Heat have shown a disdain for each other over the years because of the physical style of play that comes with each game. But it's clear that both sides enjoy the challenge of playing against each other and the level of competition that it brings out each time.
Bulls center Joakim Noah was upset by his team's effort against its biggest rival.
"I don't care about missed shots," Noah said after the loss. "When we play the Miami Heat, our intensity has to be high the whole time. To me, that's what's disappointing. We play the Heat -- those guys ended our seasons a lot. You've got to hate playing these guys, and our intensity has to be, every time we play them, our intensity has to be high. We did it in spurts. It wasn't good the whole time, and that's what's disappointing."
Are the Bulls the most frustrating team in the league to the Heat?
"I don't know," Wade said. "They make you think a lot. They're going to make you think. They play hard, so I don't know if it's the most frustrating or not. Obviously, in the Eastern Conference we play them four times a year, so we've got opportunities to see them more than some other teams, but they're a tough team no matter whether we play them in Miami, we play them in Chicago, we play them in Alaska. Anywhere we play them they're going to be a tough team."
Having knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs twice in the past three seasons, Wade knows that whoever faces the Bulls in the playoffs is going to have a challenge on their hands.
"They're going to fight," he said. "They're going to battle. We've played them multiple years in the playoffs. Whether it's five games, seven games, they're going to take a lot out of you, but that's the nature of the game. So whoever has to play them, you've got to have your hard hats on. They're not going to make it easy on you at all. No matter who's in the lineup for them, they're going to go out and give it their all.
"A lot of nights, their all is good enough to win games and to compete and get a chance to win. So it's always going to be a tough series for whoever faces them."