The Miami Heat have been fairly awesome since their max superstar Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup in late January. In their last 15 games, they have been the league’s number one defensive team.
Tonight they showed how as the Bulls really struggled offensively in a 101-90 loss.
It was an ugly game for both sides, with both teams locked into a 42-42 halftime score. While the Bulls entered the 4th quarter only down two, it was a scoring frenzy in the final period by Goran Dragic that sunk the Bulls behind double-digits where it stood around that deficit for the final few minutes. Dragic had 20 of his 25 point in the 4th quarter.
Dragic's got 20 in the 4th!— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 13, 2021
As mentioned, before then it was a pretty close and ugly game. The Heat came out the gate extremely active defensively, where the Bulls had 6 turnovers in roughly the first 6 minutes (16 overall). They were switching a lot and not playing many bigs (Bam Adebayo was inactive) and daring the Bulls big men to make them pay for it. They really couldn’t, whether it was guards not seeing mismatches, or poorly passing inside, or the astounding number of missed layups. Looking at 2-point shot attempts: Carter was 1-5, Williams 0-5, Coby White 1-5. No doubt Miami was very, let’s say “physical”, which is what you call a team that fouls a lot but doesn’t get called for it due to that reputation.
Where the Bulls had more success was beyond the arc, shooting nearly 40%. Zach LaVine was a flamethrower taking advantage of opposing bigs switching on him, and finished with 30 off of six threes. He wasn’t content on the perimeter and had some impressive drives even if he was frustrated by the officiating. Shockingly Garrett Temple took up that fight in the 2nd half, earning the second tech of his long and well-traveled career.
The Heat were of course led by Butler who bested his teammate Dragic for 28. He shot 10-12 from the free throw line, while the Bulls as a team had only 7 attempts. I mean, they weren’t cheap fouls or bad calls, Butler was earning them. The Bulls didn’t.
The Bulls secured the paint somewhat by totally neutralizing the defensive glass (Miami had 1 offensive rebound) but struggled in other areas of the fouling and turnovers (only 9 for Miami). Miami was the smaller and more skilled team yet also the more physical. After LaVine’s 30 and Lauri Markkanen’s 20 (4 more threes in his second game back) only Thad Young (13 points on 13 flips) had double digits for the Bulls. They shot under 36% on twos.
This was penciled in as a likely loss and it played pretty true to form even with the Heat missing Adebayo. The schedule is unrelenting, with just 1 day off before hosting the Raptors.