The Heat Throttled The Bulls To Earn The 8-Seed In The Eastern Conference

For the second year in a row, the Miami Heat will enter the NBA playoffs as the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. On Friday night, Miami played host to the Chicago Bulls in the final Play-In Tournament game in the East and put forth a dominant performance behind a near triple-double from Tyler Herro. As a result, they picked up a 112-91 win that sets up the latest postseason battle between the Heat and the Boston Celtics.

Both offenses spent large stretches of the first half stuck in the mud. After the Bulls went up 11-6 to start the game, Miami closed the first quarter on a 28-6 run. And while Chicago’s offense outside of DeMar DeRozan continued to struggle in the second quarter, the Jimmy Butler-less Heat only scored 13 points in the entire frame.

By the end of the first half, Miami took a 47-37 lead into the locker room. Despite shooting 17-for-44 from the field (38.6 percent), they were up double-digits due to the fact that only DeRozan scored more than six points for Chicago — as a team, the Bulls were 12-for-44 (27.3 percent), while DeRozan led all scores with 15 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr. led the way for Miami with 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

Out of the break, the Heat’s offense found a spark in Herro. The high-scoring guard scored 12 points in the frame and helped Miami opened up a 22-point lead, in part because the team was able to end the third quarter on a 19-6 run. It got to the point of inevitability very quickly in the fourth quarter, and with seven minutes left to go in the frame, Heat fans let it be known that they’re ready for another matchup with Boston.

Herro and Jaquez led the way for Miami — the former went for 24 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, while the latter put up 21 points, six rebounds, and six dimes. While Bam Adebayo had a relatively quiet night — 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks — Kevin Love was huge off the bench, going for 16 points and seven rebounds in only 12 minutes of work. As for Chicago, they managed to get a 22-point night out of DeRozan, while Nikola Vucevic pitched in 16 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block.

Game 1 of Heat vs. Celtics will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST on ABC. This will mark the third team in a row that Boston and Miami will meet up in the postseason, and last year, the Heat got the better of the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. It seems unlikely that Butler will be able to go this time around, though, as he’s been ruled out several weeks with a knee injury.