Keys to Victory

The Chicago Bulls are coming off a Wednesday night victory in Toronto, while the Miami Heat are coming off a loss against the Atlanta Hawks. The Bulls should expect Miami to come in with a vengeance to erase their loss and earn the final playoff spot in the Conference. Miami should expect a Bulls team to come in with high morale from a thrilling victory.

Zach LaVine is a crucial component for the Bulls in this matchup. LaVine is coming in from a 39-point game where he led the Bulls to victory. The Bulls should allow LaVine to pick up where he left off by letting him control the game. LaVine is undoubtedly capable of once again delivering an offensive masterclass when the Bulls need him the most.

Chicago must be ready for a defensive battle. The Bulls rank #5 in defensive rating, while the Heat rank #9. With two top 10 teams in defensive rating, executing on both ends of the court is pivotal for the Bulls. While both teams rank in the top 10 in defensive rating, The Heat rank 25th in offensive rating, and the Bulls rank 24th, indicating a defensive battle.

Offensively, the Bulls must provide support for LaVine and DeRozan. Unquestionably, the Heat will be looking to make it a long night for Chicago’s stars, making the performance of Vucevic and the bench unit crucial. The Bulls scored 21 bench points against the Raptors, led by ten from Patrick Williams and nine from Coby White. If both players can score double-digits off the bench, an essential boost will be provided to the Bulls’ offense.

Containing Jimmy Butler should be the priority for the Bulls defensively. The Hawks held Butler to just 21 points on 31.5% shooting in their victory to become the 7th seed in the East. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Butler is known for his playoff heroics, and replicating that poor performance will be challenging. Still, Patrick Beverly and Alex Caruso will be looking forward to the task.

Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Unfortunately for the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan has ruled out his daughter Diar for the game, citing the importance of school. Diar was critical in causing the Raptors to shoot poorly from the free-throw line holding them to just 50% from the line. Chicago must head into Miami with execution on their minds to earn the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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