The Miami Heat fly to Chicago on a back-to-back following a 113-103 win against the Orlando Magic last night. The Bulls will be waiting at the United Center to welcome the Heat to Chicago. They are coming off a 127-105 defeat against the Philadelphia 76ers to open up the second-half last night at home. Both teams are on a back-to-back, but the Bulls remain home, while the Heat are on a back-to-back on the road for each game. The Heat are going to be without Myles Leonard for at least a week.
He used an anti-Sementic slur during a livestream while playing a video game. Leonard was served a $50,000 fine and one-week suspension by the NBA. The Heat said they’d suspend him indefinitely. Leonard was averaging only 3.3 points per game, so the on-court product is not going to suffer without him suiting it. For the Heat, it made the indefinite suspension punishment a little easier to hand out.
This is a Heat team that has been getting hot after a really slow start in 2020-21. When they’re playing up to their full potential, the Heat are one of the better teams in the NBA. People are sleeping on the Heat, while the public salivates over the Brooklyn Nets. That’s understandable, as the Nets are the team to beat in the East. That Big 3 is going to be tough to match in the playoffs, though a defensive-minded team like the Heat might prove to be difficult.
The Heat have won eight of their last nine performances going into Chicago. The defense that we expected to see from the get-go wasn’t present. However, the Heat have figured it out, and they’ve grinded away and neutralized offenses for nearly a month now. The All-Star break did not throw them out of their form either, as they looked crisp and in control last night against the Magic. I know it’s only the Magic, but they contained some really good offenses before the break.
The Bulls go into tonight with a record of 16-19 on the season. They’ve been about shooting par for their expectations. This is where I had them, and they’re going to have a chance to catch on as a bottom seed in the East. A record of .500 is often enough to make the playoffs in this conference. That said, the Bulls are losers in three of their last four games, with the only win against a defensive inept Pelicans squad, 128-124. Head below for our free Heat vs. Bulls pick on March 12, 2021.
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls NBA Betting Odds:
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls Prediction:
The Heat aren’t exactly the team that anybody wants to see on a back-to-back. A physical defense like the Heat can wear down a tired team pretty quickly. After a slow start this season, the Heat were one of the best defenses in the league down the stretch in the first-half. Miami is fifth in the league with an average of 108.2 points conceded per game. Through their last five outings, the opposition has scored an average just 105.4 points a game against the Heat.
Note that in their last eight outings, the Heat have allowed fewer than 110 points in seven. The Utah Jazz were the only team to net more than 110 points on the Heat, and that was a loss for the Jazz, 124-116. Including a win against the Lakers, 96-94, the Heat have made it clear that this is more than a three-team race between the Bucks, Nets, and 76ers. Adding a scorer at the trade deadline to this roster could put the Heat over the top and in more competitive standing with them.
The Bulls have been on the opposite end of the spectrum defensively recently. They’ve been a paper thin unit, with teams scoring an average of 120 points on the Bulls through their past five outings. Overall, the Bulls are 25th in the league with 115.5 points allowed per game. Opponents are shooting 47.7% from the field against the Bulls. The key to beating the Heat is shutting down their mediocre offense, but the Bulls aren’t built to shut teams down. It’s the Zach Lavine show in Chicago, with more emphasis on offense than defense.
Miami has been productive on the road lately as well. Note that they’ve covered four straight as visitors, as well as going 5-1 ATS in their last six as favorites on the road. With both teams on a back-to-back, I have more confidence in the team that plays defensive basketball. The Heat are in their best form of the season at the moment, and should be able to navigate past a Bulls team with plenty of holes to exploit.
Against a one-dimensional Bulls team that focuses their operation exclusively around Lavine, expect the Heat to put together another lockdown defensive performance. Despite a back-to-back on the road, 2 points looks too small on the Heat. I’d have them around 4.5 to 5-point favorites. The Heat should get the win here by more than two points if they’re interested in being in Chicago on Friday night.