Originally Published: March 9, 2014

1. Heat Look For Leading Indicators In Chicago

By Brian Windhorst | ESPN.com

CHICAGO -- Think about the most challenging scenario a team that's been struggling with slow starts could be given. Perhaps a noon Sunday game on the road against a rugged opponent on the first day of daylight savings time, which makes it essentially an 11 a.m. start.

James/Noah
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsJoakim Noah and LeBron James are aiming to get back to winning ways on Sunday (ABC, 1 ET).

The Miami Heat did something on their current road trip that hasn't happened during the past four seasons: They lost two straight games they never led for a second. The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs beat them wire-to-wire as the Heat got off to sluggish starts both nights and never recovered.

Now it's an early tip-off with the Bulls, who are coming off a disappointing home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Bulls are always up for the Heat, especially at home, where they ended the Heat's 27-game win streak last season.

When the two teams played two weeks ago in Miami, the Bulls jumped out to an early lead by shooting 46 percent in the first quarter, which is a very good number for the offensively-challenged Bulls. The Heat came back to win that game but know that another poor start would be a problem.

"When you're playing good teams in their building and you don't play well in the first quarter, it's going to be hard to get the lead," Dwyane Wade said after the Heat held an extended practice on Saturday.

The Heat gave up 39 points on 65 percent shooting to the Rockets in the first quarter in their loss last Tuesday. Then, on Thursday in San Antonio, the Spurs racked up 79 percent shooting and 37 points in the first quarter after a parade of layups as the Heat opened the game sluggish again.

The two losses took the Heat from an eight-game win streak to their first mini-slump in the second half of the season. It was a missed opportunity to make up ground on the Indiana Pacers, who are on a season-long three-game losing streak.

"Good starts don't guarantee you anything, but when we're successful on the road against good teams, we're able to impose our will early on," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That clearly wasn't the case the last two games."

Saturday, the Heat held nearly a three-hour session looking at film and practicing, one of their longest road workouts of the season.

"This isn't AAU; you can't just move on to the next game," Spoelstra said. "We had to review it and own it and get better at the things we need to."

In the last meeting, the Bulls were without starting guard Jimmy Butler with a rib injury. He's back now, and Joakim Noah, who's been bothered by a recent thumb injury, is also expected to play. The Bulls haven't lost back-to-back games in more than a month and haven't dropped two in a row at home since mid-December.

"We're very focused on getting off to a better start," LeBron James said. "We've been digging ourselves a hole, which is something you can't do on the road."

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