Monday, May 20, 2024

3 Things The Chicago Bulls Must Do To Punch Their Playoff Ticket In Miami

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Tonight’s elimination game between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will determine the eighth and final seed in the 2023 Eastern Conference playoff bracket. The winner will draw the number one-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the official playoffs, and their first game will be Sunday, April 16th, at 8:00 PM central time. Chicago owns the season series against Miami 3-0, but that doesn’t indicate much with the number of injuries throughout the three games. This will be a fresh slate matchup; let’s see how the Bulls stack up.

Turn Them Over, Score In Transition

Miami is fourth in the league in transition points allowed, and the Bulls will have to take full advantage as they did during the regular season. Since Patrick Williams and Coby White have come off the bench, the second unit for Chicago is causing turnovers and running in transition more than ever for the Bulls, and those two will be pivotal in tonight’s matchup.

Two of the three regular-season meetings saw the Bulls shoot a better percentage from the field and a better clip from beyond the three-point arc. Scoring with efficiency and forcing turnovers will be driving forces in escaping elimination. Expect to see Derrick Jones Jr. deployed early and often, as Miami’s lineup is one of the few in the NBA smaller than Chicago’s.

Stars Must Shine

Much like the Toronto matchup, playoff time is when the stars have to shine the brightest. In Wednesday’s game, Zach LaVine took the reigns in the third quarter and led the Bulls back from a 19-point third-quarter deficit behind his 30-point second-half effort. DeMar DeRozan has been the brightest of the stars against Miami’s undersized lineup this season and will look to continue his dominance over them tonight.

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Chicago’s big three each played 39 or more minutes in Wednesday’s upset victory, something they’ll likely need to do again tonight. Miami is one of the smallest teams in the NBA, and it will evenly counter Chicago’s similarly small lineup. While they will not make the Bulls pay on the glass as much as Toronto, they’re equally as potent in transition and have several three-point threats from the perimeter. Due to Miami’s lack of size, Nikola Vucevic will be crucial on the glass and in the paint offensively. In the three meetings with them this season, Vucevic has averaged 19 points, 13 rebounds, and almost three offensive rebounds per game.

Chase Them Off The Three-Point Line

Chicago must keep the Miami Heat three-point shooters at bay tonight to advance. Miami has several players capable of making six or more threes and can get hot in a hurry. They shoot the three ball at a top-ten rate in the NBA and have seven guys who fire 4.6 or more three-point attempts per contest compared to the two players who reach that mark for the Bulls.

Kyle Lowry has been the center of plenty of scrutiny, rightfully so this season, but may have broken out in Tuesday night’s first Play-In Tournament game. He and former Raptor teammate DeRozan will face off tonight for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. They’re .500 against one another since their six-year tenure as Toronto’s backcourt duo before the Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan swap several years ago.

Can the Bulls pull off the first 10-seeded team to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, or will tonight end their short-lived postseason journey? 6:00 PM central time on TNT will put the long-awaited anticipation to rest; let’s go Bulls Nation!

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PrudenceAnnunziata
PrudenceAnnunziata
Apr 14, 2023 3:50 pm

good

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