The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat meet at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night in Miami. This matchup pits a Bulls team coming off a tough loss last night against the Bulls who were 108-91 winners at home against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night. The Bulls didn’t acquire Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline to be spectators in the playoffs.
However, they might have to settle for no play-in tournament or playoffs. The No. 10-7 seeds will play in a play-in tournament to see who moves on to the playoff rounds. The Bulls would not be going to the play-in if that were to start on Saturday. They own a record of 25-34 and a game behind the Washington Wizards for the final seed. The Wizards have been coming on hard recently.
They’ve learned how to play defense, and when Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal are hot, like they are right now, the Wizards can be a dangerous team. Not good news for the Bulls who are without the services of Zach LaVine at the moment. LaVine is not scheduled to play tonight, and is on the injury report OUT indefinitely with an illness. This is Covid protocol for LaVine, and doesn’t necessarily indicate that he contracted the virus.
Contract tracing could explain the absence. Bad news for a Bulls squad that is slumping right now and need some offensive energy from someone besides Vucevic. The trade hasn’t worked out well for the Bulls, as they haven’t shown improvement in form with him on the floor. However, Vucevic has been the focal point for the Bulls without an active LaVine. They’d be in real trouble if Vucevic wasn’t suiting up.
The Bulls have lost six of their last nine games. They looked like a playoff team on April 19 in a 102-96 win over the Boston Celtics, but a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-96, and Hornets, 108-91, isn’t going to impress much. If the Bulls head to Miami and beat a Heat team that looked terrible last night, then that might carry some weight. The Heat were blown out by a score of 118-103 and had a brutal 23-14 fourth quarter to fall out of the frame in Atlanta against the Hawks. Head below for our free Bulls vs. Heat pick on April 24, 2021.
Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat NBA Betting Odds:
Bulls vs. Heat Prediction:
The Bulls didn’t look too interested in Atlanta last night. The Hawks have been dealing with injuries, notably to Trae Young, but the Heat weren’t able to take advantage. They slipped to 31-29 on the season and would currently be going to the play-in tournament. That’s not good form for the Heat. They have to put in a little more effort down the stretch to avoid the play-in, which was certainly not the goal for the Heat going into this season. The usually dependable Heat defense wasn’t present last night.
That said, I’m confident that they’re going to bounce back against a LaVine-less Bulls squad. Miami is third in the league with 107.2 points against per game. This team is capable of a lot more than we saw last night. It was almost like they looked at the Young injury and decided to take the night off. They’ve held offenses to just 45.15% shooting from the field. Despite getting touched up by the Hawks last night, the Heat have conceded 104.4 points against per game in their last five outings. They allowed 91 and 87 points prior to the performance last night in Atlanta.
In their only meeting against the Bulls this season, the Heat contained them for only 90 points in a 101-90 win on March 12. LaVine carried the weight for the Bulls in that game with 30 points. However, LaVine is going to be missing in Miami tonight. Fortunately for the Bulls, the Heat don’t have a dangerous offense that has scared anyone this year. The offense has held the Heat back significantly, as they’ve notched just 106.4 points per game for 27th in the league. They are shooting just 35% from three for 24th. Their defense has been strong, but offense is required in this era of the NBA.
The Bulls were struggling in the first half of the season, but they’ve improved in that regard. And it has been especially important with LaVine out of the lineup. Vucevic is talented, but the Bulls aren’t going to win too many games shooting the lights out without LaVine. Through their last five games, the Bulls have allowed 106 points per game. They haven’t allowed more than 100 points in three of their previous four outings. The Bulls are likely going to see a strong Miami defense in this one after the Heat left the door open last night in Atlanta. A play on the UNDER looks like where to go.