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GAME PREVIEW: Heat meet the Bulls looking to erase painful memories of allowing 119 points in Chicago

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A 41st win matches last season’s total, and one more Heat win or Pistons’ loss clinches a playoff berth.

NBA: Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat (40-35) host the Chicago Bulls, (24-50), looking to continue the strong defensive performance of their last game against the Cleveland Cavaliers,

Game Information

When: Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

TV: Check local broadcast provider, NBALP

Radio: WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Win probability: ESPN predictor has Miami as 81% favorites.

Probable Starters

HEAT: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Jordan Mickey

BULLS: Cameron Payne, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez

Injury Report

HEAT: Dion Waiters (out, ankle), Bam Adebayo (questionable, ankle), Hassan Whiteside (questionable, hip flexor), Tyler Johnson (probable, migraine), Dwyane Wade (probable, migraine)

BULLS: Zach LaVine (out, knee), Kris Dunn (out, toe), Paul Zipser (out, foot). Antonio Blakeney (out, wrist), Cristiano Felicio (doubtful, back), Lauri Markkanen (probable, injury management), Denzel Valentine (probable, knee)

Scouting Report

This game is their fourth and final meeting this season. Miami won the first two games and Chicago soundly defeated a disinterested Miami Heat team, 119-111. in their third encounter, where Justin Holiday made 7 of his 11 3-point attempts,

Fresh off a lopsided victory over the Cavaliers, a triumph against the Bulls would match last season’s total of 41 wins for the Heat, and close in on clinching a playoff berth for 2018.

Hassan Whiteside might make his long-awaited return to action as the team seeks a return to the possibilities of Dwyane Wade and Whiteside connections for conceivably their final season together.

Game Keys

The Bulls approach may take advantage of the Heat possibly mailing the game in after the Cavaliers win, and outworking Miami on both ends of the floor with youth and motivation.

If the Bulls are going to get back on track this evening they are going to have to play a hard-nosed, physical game. As mentioned above, the Heat are feeling self-assured, thus Chicago will have to come out of the gates fast and exceed Miami’s energy by quickly establishing an aggressive tone and pace to the game.

The Heat just need to review Portland Trail Blazers 108-103 loss to Memphis Grizzlies to see that any number of Heat personnel might lose their jobs this summer, because the NBA has 450 of the best basketball players in the world routinely fighting to get on the main stage and take their place.

Bad three-point shooting and lackadaisical defense conspired to keep the Blazers on the wrong side of the scoreboard, falling to Memphis 108-103.

The Blazers announced their intentions early in the game, coming out slow and sloppy. Their defense looked a step late. The offense was great in form, but finishes seemed distracted and lackadaisical. Rebounding was spotty too.

The fourth period started with a battle of the “Hoozat?” Club. Wade Baldwin IV scored Portland’s first eight points of the quarter, getting to the hoop like Wormtongue into Theoden’s ear.

Basic NBA Lesson #1: If you leave the door open for the other team, they might step through it.

Side Note On Playoff Battle

An injury with playoff implications happened last night in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ game as Markelle Fultz headbutted Joel Embiid resulting in what team officially labels a facial contusion.

Given Embiid’s history of injuries, the scenarios of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas may suggest caution on the most recent prognosis for Embiid’s facial bone bruise, which may take weeks before swelling and pain go away.

Joel Embiid is out for the game with a facial bruise after colliding with Markelle Fultz on this play.