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Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Preview: game one of a critical series

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Jimmy G. Buckets Time

NBA: Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (31-29) at Miami Heat (25-34)

Preview:

It always felt like the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals run was a bit of a fluke last season.

A very similar roster to the one that went 44-29 and won the Eastern Conference less than a year ago, is now treading water at 31-29 this season. But the Heat still have very talented pieces. Plus don’t get it mistaken, even as a middling team in a perpetually crappy Eastern Conference, the Heat are still much better than your Chicago Bulls.

Obviously the headliner is former Chicago Bull Jimmy Butler. Bam Adebayo has had an awesome year so far: he’s second on the team in scoring average, first in rebound average, and is averaging over five assists per game from the center position. However, several guards will be out for Miami and that is a key vulnerability against the Bulls they won’t be able to exploit.

Meanwhile, the Bulls continue to fight for that last play-in playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. At a full nine games below .500, they sit at No. 11 in the conference. They are a game back of the Washington Wizards and a half-game up over the Toronto Raptors, who lost this afternoon. A reminder though, that theoretically both of those teams have much more of an incentive to tank in the upcoming draft than to actually fight for a (to them) worthless participation trophy spot in the 2021 NBA playoffs.

The Bulls mostly squandered the soft schedule before, as it toughens up here considerably. They have back-to-back games against the Miami Heat, then go to the Garden to face Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose’s New York Knicks, before returning to the United Center to face the Greek Freak and co. They follow those games up with meetings against the Atlanta Hawks and Philly; two more teams who are objectively better than them.

The race for tenth seed in the Eastern Conference continues to heat up.

Injury Report:

Zach LaVine and Troy Brown remain out for the Bulls.

For Miami:

Game Time: 7:00 CDT; NBC Sports Chicago