It’s safe to say that the Miami Heat, who came within one win of getting to the NBA Finals last season, did not meet expectations in the 2022-23 campaign. Now they find themselves in a do-or-die situation as they have to beat the Chicago Bulls to get into the playoffs.
BetOnline customers can see that game at 7 PM ET on TNT.
Miami put itself into this dilemma by losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks in their first game in the NBA Play-In Tournament. In the process of the 116-105 defeat, they were down 24 in the first half, and they lost the “hustle” part of the contest completely. The Hawks, who will now play the Boston Celtics in a best of seven, had a decisive 22-6 edge in offensive rebounds, and that led to a 26-6 margin in second-chance points. When you are minus-24 in the rebounding category, you are not going to win many games.
On top of that, the Heat shot under 43%, with Jimmy Butler making only six of his 19 attempts from the field. Bam Adebayo had just 12 field goal attempts. He said after the game, “We just got to figure out a way to get me the ball.” That may be easier said than done, as we’ll explore in a minute.
Chicago comes in on a high note, having come back from 19 points down to beat Toronto 109-105 in their first play-in. Zach LaVine exploded for 39 points, while the reliable DeMar DeRozan added 23.
In the NBA playoff odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Heat are the favorites:
Miami Heat -5
Chicago Bulls +5
Over 208.5 Points -110
Under 208.5 Points -110
This was Chicago’s series in the regular season, as they swept all three meetings. And these were not thrillers either; the margins were eight, 10, and 14 points. LaVine thinks his team matches up very well against this opponent.
He missed the first meeting between the two squads. Kyle Lowry missed the third. And while LaVine had that huge game in Toronto, Lowry scored 33 points against Atlanta, which included six triples. He has been a hot number since coming back from an injury on March 10. Since then, he has shot 47% from three-point territory.
The Bulls’ defense has been difficult to navigate around. Since the All-Star break, in fact, their Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is the best in the NBA. Keep in mind that they have an outstanding backcourt from that perspective, with the perennially-pesky Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso clinging to opponents.
One of the things they do is send multiple defenders into the paint, as they seem willing to let foes take their chances shooting threes. That might make someone like Adebayo find another teammate. This has been covered with coach Erik Spoelstra in the film study on Thursday. The bottom line is that Bam can’t force shots.
Miami’s subpar performance against Atlanta can be attributed to a lack of effort. And this is not known as a team that sleeps on the job too long. We’re absolutely expecting something better from them here, and so are the fans at some of the best NBA betting sites, and we are looking for the more experienced team to prevail.
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