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Things did not go according to plan for the Chicago Bulls (16-19) in their first game back from the All-Star Break. Chicago caught Philadelphia on a night when the 76ers were without All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but it didn’t matter. The 76ers rolled Chicago 127-105 behind a dominant second half.
Lauri Markannen led the Bulls with 23 points and four rebounds, while Zach LaVine added 19 points and seven assists, and Coby White scored 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Chicago turned it over 19 times in the loss and gave up 13 offensive rebounds to Philadelphia. The Bulls now turn around and face Miami, who won over the Magic to start their second half.
Miami (18-18) got 26 points and 11 assists from Jimmy Butler, and 20 points and seven rebounds from Kelly Olynyk as they took down Orlando 111-103. Tyler Herro added 17 points, four rebounds, and five assists off the bench. The Heat hit 16 three-pointers in this game and didn’t pull away until late in the fourth quarter.
This will be the first meeting between the two Eastern Conference opponents this season. The Bulls will have all of their key players available, while the Heat will be without Bam Adebayo (knee) and Avery Bradley (calf).
Heat Face Stiffer Challenge in Chicago
The Miami Heat survived a back-and-forth affair against Orlando last night, and now get a Chicago team coming off a bad loss to the 76ers on the tail end of a road back-to-back. Those type of games are never easy, but at least Chicago also is playing the back end of a back-to-back, and both teams just had their All-Star Breaks.
Jimmy Butler (20.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.8 apg) will have to key the offense without second-leading scorer Bam Adebayo. Kelly Olynyk (10.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) played well as he replaced Adebayo in the starting lineup last night. Tyler Herro has been outstanding off the bench, averaging 15.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 3.6 apg to lead the second unit.
As a team, the Heat have an effective field goal percentage of 53.9%, 16th in the league. Miami is 30th in the league in turnover percentage (14.5%), 28th in offensive rebounding percentage (18.4%) and fourth in free throws per field goal attempts (.210). Defensively, the Heat are ninth in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percentage (53.2%), fifth in opponent turnover percentage (13.7), 19th in defensive rebound percentage (77.2%), and 11th in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.185)
Bulls Look for Better Effort Defensively
The 76ers took Chicago to the woodshed last night, outworking them on the boards and creating a ton of turnovers despite being without their two best players. Chicago simply didn’t respond last night, but get considerable relief with Miami coming to town. Like the 76ers, the Heat will be without a key inside player as Bam Adebayo is out, but the Bulls front line will still have to contend with veteren Kelly Olynyk. That matchup will really determine how this game goes.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 12, 2021
The Bulls are led by All-star Zach LaVine, who has been red hot recently. LaVine has averaged 28.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 5.1 apg while shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc. Coby White has averaged 16.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 5.0 apg. Leading rebounder Wendell Carter, Jr. has averaged 12.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg, while Thaddeus Young has averaged 12.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 4.4 apg.
As a team, the Bulls have an effective field goal percentage of 55.9%, seventh in the league. Chicago is 28th in the league in turnover percentage (14.1%), 20th in offensive rebounding percentage (21.1%) and 23rd in free throws per field goal attempts (.178). Defensively, the Bulls are 18th in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percentage (54.0%), 17th in opponent turnover percentage (12.2), fifth in defensive rebound percentage (79.4%), and 25th in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.215).
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bulls were terrible last night, but get considerable schedule relief. Also, professionals do rebound from bad losses with a much better performance, so I’m looking for the Bulls to play quite a bit better than they did last night. Miami has to travel across the country in this back-to-back, which makes the schedule especially unkind. I think there are too many factors going against the Heat in this one. I think the Bulls will win if favored, or will cover if they are the dog. Either way, I’m taking the Bulls.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams are trending heavily toward the UNDER, and I look for that trend to continue in this one. Neither team is built to be prolific offensively. Instead, both teams rely on tough interior defense and rebounding to get the job done. The Bulls have a slight edge there as the Heat are without Adebayo. But, are the Bulls offensively adept enough to make a difference in the total. History suggests no. So I’m taking the UNDER in this one.