Saturday night, the Chicago Bulls hosted the Miami Heat and fans got a glimpse at what might unfold should these teams meet in the playoffs down the road. A day after a convincing win over the Orlando Magic, the Bulls ran into a difficult task.
The Heat provided the Bulls with one of their toughest tests yet, as they are right up there in the Eastern Conference standings as well and present a very difficult matchup.
In the end, the Bulls were able to keep it close but lost by a score of 107-104. DeMar DeRozan got hot in the third quarter and scored 14 of his 28 in that period alone. He was exactly what the Bulls needed at the time, as no one else could get anything going offensively.
Alex Caruso ended his night with 22 points, six assists, three boards and a steal — and some absolutely suffocating defense from start to finish. Caruso was brilliant in this one, and arguably the best overall player on the floor. Late in the game, he made some big defensive stops and a couple of eye-popping passes that helped the Bulls sustain a bit of momentum.
It was crystal clear: these two teams were a perfect match for one another.
Should the Chicago Bulls meet the Miami Heat in the playoffs, fans would be in for a 7-game dog fight.
One of the most impressive parts about the Bulls in this loss was their ability to keep it close while the numbers would tell you they should have been blown out. Chicago turned the ball over a season-high 22 times and shot 11-for-39 from beyond the arc.
The Bulls looked sloppy on offense for the majority of the night. Zach LaVine didn’t hit double figures until the fourth quarter and only ended with 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Nikola Vucevic had his worst game of the season as he took some bad shots and looked completely lost on both ends of the floor.
Where it went right for the Bulls was on the glass. Chicago out-rebounded the Heat 47 to 36 and also came up with four blocks to Miami’s one. The hustle was certainly there at times, but not consistently.
Miami’s zone defense was too much for the Bulls offensively, as they couldn’t move around as easily as they normally would. The Heat also saw their shooters take over in the second half, as they knocked down seven threes in the fourth quarter, while the Bulls simply couldn’t buy a bucket from long distance.
Not every game in a 7-game series would look like this. The Bulls wouldn’t turn it over 22 times a game. Surely, LaVine would have his games and Vucevic couldn’t be that bad every night. Billy Donovan would find ways to beat that zone. The Heat would also likely find a way to be better on the glass.
These are two teams that are made for an intense battle down the road. They matchup so well in many ways, and fans would be in for quite the treat. The Bulls may have lost this one, but they and the Heat are destined for each other when Spring rolls around.