It was Goran who marked his return with some great offensive play to start this one-off. The Heat was pushing the ball and attacking sparking a 10-0 rum, rare for a team with one of the slowest paces in the league.
The Bulls did a solid job keeping it close, by attacking the key - classic Vucevic. But the Heat was actually consistent on offense with Jimmy doing great midrange work and slashing to the rim with ease. He had 10 points in 10 minutes, which if you’re new to this, is pretty damn good. Goran would end the first quarter with a big three, keeping momentum in Miami’s favor.
Trevor Ariza would help extend the Heat’s lead to nine. He’s been very reliable for the Heat since arriving in the trade. His three-point shot also looked phenomenal tonight. Ariza was incredibly active on both ends. He had 13 points in the first half including a stretch with seven straight points.
Bam was also solid attacking and doing work in the midrange. Still, Theis and Vucevic made things uncomfortable for Miami on the other end. The Heat would take a small lead into the second half
Jimmy opened the second half with a steal as we’ve grown accustomed to. He leads the leagues in steals per game. Jimmy continued his offensive assault on the Bulls, his old organization just couldn’t guard him at all. Bam was also a nuisance for the Bulls, feasting nearly every time he took a shot.
Despite Miami’s exceptional offense, the Bulls started to carve up the Miami Heat defense with Coby White coming alive and even take the lead for a little bit.
That seemed unacceptable to Jimmy Butler, who continued to barrage the Bulls defense getting to the line and racking up points. He had 15 points in the third quarter. It was pretty incredible to watch as he really put on a clinic. Jimmy doesn’t always score like this, but it’s must-watch basketball when he does.
Unfortunately for the Heat, it was really only Bam and Jimmy scoring for the Heat with Duncan and the reserves struggling to score. Max Strus would make some key plays to end the third. Duncan would leave the game with Eric Reid explaining that he wasn’t feeling well.
Theis continued to cause problems for the Heat to start the fourth, but the Heat reserves were very aggressive on defense creating some very good offensive opportunities. With Jimmy getting rest Bam played some really solid bully ball, punishing Lauri on offense. It’s great seeing him go after these looks.
Coby White and Theis would pull the Bulls back within striking distance and eventually steal the lead. Dedmon did some blue-collar work in the paint to keep the Heat within two points, but Vucevic continued to make things difficult on the other end.
With under three minutes to play, Lauri Markanen hit a big three to create a five-point lead. But Ariza would cut it back to two with a big three of his own. Theis would unfortunately score again, and Jimmy and Goran would miss two big shots to cement the Heat’s fate.
Another wasted Jimmy Butler performance. He was excellent tonight. It’s a damn shame. The Heat also could have made progress in the standings on a night where the Knicks lost in moving into the sixth seed. Instead, they’ll stay at seven.
Unfortunately, this is who this team is this season, shorthanded or not.