- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Rip (Hamilton) is one of those guys that since I've came into the league I've had multiple battles with," Wade said after Friday's morning shootaround. "You play guys in the Eastern Conference finals you're going to have those ... war marks, war wounds and we've had that."
The rivalry sparked last season when Wade delivered a forearm that knocked Hamilton out of bounds. Wade picked up a flagrant foul.
"So we've had multiple battles, but I respect Rip as a player and what he's been able to do consistently in this league from that standpoint," Wade said. "He brings the best out of me and I feel I do the same."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Bulls have maintained their toughness without Rose, who is on the road trip and practicing without contact as he recovers from ACL surgery.
"They still have that Chicago Bulls fabric and toughness," Spoelstra said. "They just grind. The fact that they're fifth in the Eastern Conference right now with the MVP out shows you the character of the team. They've had a lot of changes, their bench looks totally different, and yet they still find a way even after tough losses they find a way to grind, stay in there, and win enough games to get them right in the middle of the pack of that Eastern Conference. They're a dangerous team and they're mentally and physically tough enough to win in every building and we know that.
"Regardless of whether Rose being out, bench looking different, you know how they're going to play. So it's going to be an extremely physical and competitive game. Likely will be close, doesn't matter which building here or in Chicago. We'll have to earn it and we'll have to play a complete 48 minute game."
LeBron James said he's noticed a more balanced approach by the Bulls without Rose.
"I've seen them. I've watched them a lot," James said. "The adjustments they've made (is) they've kind of went away from the pick and roll they've done in the past with D. Rose being such a great pick and roll player to a lot of catch and shoot, using Joakim (Noah) at the high post because he's such a great passer and facilitator. And also getting the ball into (Luol Deng's) hands because he's a really good offensive player as well. So they do a good job of having everyone involved with their offense not having their MVP out there."
James is a fan of Deng.
"He's approached the game at a high level each and every night, defensively, offensively, it doesn't change," James said. "It doesn't change for him. He doesn't ever step outside his box, he plays inside his comfort zone and he's a really good player."
Bulls center Joakim Noah understands that playing James and the Heat isn't like every other game. It's a different atmosphere and one he embraces.
"I don't think it's just another team in the East," Noah said before shootaround. "They're very good and we want to compete against the best and it's always a battle. It's going to be exciting."
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