Bulls season over, fittingly after another clutch loss
play-in tournament was fun, but Bulls lose to Miami and are not making the playoffs
Man am I thankful for the play-in tournament. Gave us two fun Bulls games after 82 torture sessions.
The actual aesthetics of this game weren’t that fun, ultimately a very not-2023 final score of 102-91 with the Miami Heat victorious even though they shot 10/30 from three and a mere 41% overall.
But the Bulls were worse from distance, something they have been all season, going 8 for 28 from three.
There were a lot of atypical contributions in this game. For Miami, they got one role player to step up and it was enough for the whole non-Butler team, as Max Strus went 7-12 from three to finish with an insane 31 points. He had the team’s first 12 in this game as though the Bulls didn’t fall quite as far behind as they did in Toronto, they were down double digits early yet again.
After that, the Bulls kept it close, then tied it up midway through the third, then even had a 6 point lead early in the fourth. The NBA-defined “clutch” time is at 5 minutes remaining, and the game was tied.
But the regular season trends played out here. The Heat are great in the clutch, the Bulls are crud. And that’s how it turned out in this single-elimination game. The Bulls did make a tactical decision too, to switch back to Patrick Beverley to close after Coby White hit several second-half threes and was the Bulls 2nd best scoring option in this game.
But White shouldn’t have to be. Zach LaVine was terrible in these final minutes and had a really poor game overall, finishing with 15 points on 6/21 shooting. Just as I wouldn’t say his epic performance against Toronto was a ‘signature’, I won’t say it about this game either. He is what he is.
This was an ugly, slow, defensive-focused game, so nobody was really going to look great. But DeMar DeRozan came close with his 26 points including several 4th quarter and-ones. Alex Caruso was punishing the Heat for leaving him alone and shot 8 three pointers, making half. Andre Drummond, who I said was too unserious to be in a postseason game, had a huge 2nd half stint where he pounded Miami at their weakness in defending the offensive glass.
That the game was close even after so much Bulls offensive ineptitude is a testament to the Heat not being very good either. Bam Adebayo missed like 8 four-foot shots, Butler missed several bunnies as well. It was almost like their version of the Raptors missing all those free throws last game, just inexplicable ineptitude that kept the Bulls in the game. But unlike that Raptors win the clutch performance went the other way this time.
So anyway, season over. The play-in was fun, and probably did provide some useful information about certain players, but ultimately wasn’t going to determine the success or failure of the season nor the team’s overall direction.
We now have months ahead of us to discuss…all that.