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The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls will take the court at the United Center on Saturday for an Eastern Conference showdown. Tip-off from Chicago is at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Miami (36-33 SU and 25-42-2 ATS) beat Memphis 138-119 on Wednesday. The Heat, 3-2 straight-up in their past five, are in 7th place in the EC standings.
Chicago (31-36 SU and 31-33-3 ATS) host Minnesota on Friday night. The Bulls, 2-3 straight-up in their previous five, are in 11th place in the EC standings.
Chicago has defeated Miami twice this season: 116-108 on October 19 and 113-103 on December 20. In the most recent matchup, the Bulls won on the road against a shorthanded Heat squad. Chicago used a 30-7 run in the second half to take control of the game and shot 54.8 percent from the field.
*Article was published before Friday's results.
Is Miami back on track?Miami earned its first lopsided victory in nearly two months on Wednesday, beating Memphis with a solid all-around performance. The Heat was on, all right, shooting 59.8 percent from the field, including 13-for-29 (44.8%) from three-point range. Miami was also 27-for-33 (81.8%) at the foul line and won the rebounding and turnover battles.
“We put together 48 minutes of Miami Heat basketball — getting stops, running in transition, and sharing the ball,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said.
It seemed like Tyler couldn't miss from midrange 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Wwn4bQPO0G— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 16, 2023
Jimmy Butler leads Miami in scoring this season. He averages 22.6 points on 52.6 percent shooting, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. A few other players to watch when the Heat take the floor are Adebayo (21.0 PPG and 9.4 RPG), Tyler Herro (20.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 4.3 APG), Kyle Lowry (11.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 4.2 RPG), and Max Strus (11.7 PPG).
Miami averages 109.1 points per game (30th) and shoots 45.6 percent from the field (27th), including 33.9 percent from three-point range (27th). The Heat convert 83.1 percent of their free-throw attempts (2nd) and average 40.9 rebounds (27th) with a -1.2 rebounding margin. They're 25th in offensive rating, 26th in effective field goal percentage (52.4%), and 29th in pace, per Dunks and Threes.
The Heat surrender 109.6 points per game on defense (2nd), and their opponents shoot 47.9 percent from the floor (22nd) with a 36.8 shooting percentage from long range (21st). Miami is 7th in defensive rating and 22nd in assist-per-turnover ratio.
Does Chicago have what it takes to make a playoff run?The Bulls lost at the buzzer on Wednesday, as Kings guard D'Aaron Fox nailed a three as time expired. Sacramento won despite committing 20 turnovers and allowing Chicago to collect 13 offensive rebounds, as the Bulls were held under 40 percent from the field (38-for-97) and three-point range (16-for-42). The Kings also scored 23 points off 15 Bulls turnovers, while Chicago managed only nine points off Sacramento's TOs.
DeMar DeRozan leads Chicago in scoring this season. He averages 25.1 points on 50.9 percent shooting, 5.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. A few other players to watch when the Bulls take the floor are Zach LaVine (24.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.0 APG), Nikola Vucevic (17.7 PPG and 11.4 RPG), Patrick Williams (10.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG), and Ayo Dosunmu (9.0 PPG).
3 > 2.#BullsNation | @NBCSChicago pic.twitter.com/Ke1Is8iXoV— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 16, 2023
Chicago averages 113.2 points per game (20th) and shoots 48.9 percent from the field (5th), including 36.3 percent from long range (13th). It converts 81.0 percent of its free throws (5th) and averages 42.8 rebounds (19th) with a -0.3 rebounding margin. The Bulls are 23rd in offensive rating, 14th in effective field goal percentage (54.9%), and 16th in pace, per Dunks and Threes.
Chicago gives up 112.5 points per game on defense (10th), and its opponents shoot 46.8 percent from the field (8th), including 35.6 percent from three (12th). The Bulls are 5th in defensive rating and 18th in assist-per-turnover ratio.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Miami is on track to finish in the top ten of the Eastern Conference, but to make another deep run in the NBA Playoffs, it will take more consistency down the stretch of the regular season. The Heat can finish strong with more performances like Wednesday's, which gives them something to build on. After taking down Cleveland, Utah, and Memphis in three of its past four, this appears to be the beginning of a more significant victory run for Miami.
Chicago didn't play poorly on Wednesday but can't continue to lose winnable games if it hopes to make any noise in the playoffs. After dropping consecutive games to Phoenix and Indiana, they bounced back against Houston and Denver before falling at the buzzer to Sacramento. While I expect them to win as spread favorites on Friday versus Minnesota, I'm not as bullish on them winning SU or covering versus Miami with zero day's rest.
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Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 38-29 (57.4%) overall in Bulls games this season, the best under winning % in the NBA, and 21-13 (61.8%) in Bulls home games, the third-highest under winning %. The under is also 37-34 (52.1%) overall in Heat games and 18-15 (54.6%) in Heat road games this season.
The under is my bet on the total in the Miami-Chicago game on Saturday night. The Bulls are 16th in pace and the Heat are 29th, suggesting this will be a slow-tempo, low-scoring game. These are two of the best defenses in the NBA, too — Chicago is 5th in defensive rating and Miami is 7th.