2022-23 Eastern Conference play-in: Best bets for Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
Like the Heat, it's time to bounce back after Tuesday's dismal performance.
In a do-or-die contest, the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls will face off for the No. 8 seed Friday inside Kaseya Center at 7:00 p.m. ET.
The Heat lost in embarrassing fashion Tuesday 116-105 to the Atlanta Hawks, even if the final score didn’t seem too indicative of it. Plus, I (unsurprisingly) went 0-5 in our best bets.
Regardless, I’m back like I never left. I’ll show face regardless. It’s time to bounce back — so now let’s dive into the best bets for Friday’s affair.
(Disclaimer: All odds are via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 1 a.m. ET on April 14.)
Game: Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat
Game line: Heat -5.5
If you didn’t know: The Miami Heat have been bad — like, really bad — against the spread this season. In fact, they’re a league-worst 30-50-3 ATS. They’re also 11-24-2 as a home favorite, which is ahead of only the Dallas Mavericks (10-23-2) for the worst in basketball.
Miami’s failed to cover in five of its last nine games and was favored in each of its three regular-season meetings against Chicago. They did not cover in any of them, losing by eight, 10 and 14 points, respectively.
The Bulls have had the NBA’s No. 1 defense since the All-Star break, oriented around the perimeter with Alex Caruso, Patrick Beverley and Patrick Williams. They’re 41-39-3 ATS this season (14th), but are 11-6-1 ATS over their last 18 games, including 7-2-1 on the road over that span.
Chicago has also been a top-10 team as a road underdog, going 16-12-1 ATS while covering as a road underdog in five of its last seven opportunities. Miami will have the rest advantage, but lacked energy Tuesday and will be up against an uber-confident Bulls squad.
Oh, and 32 of Miami’s 44 wins were clutch games — so expect it to be close, if anything.
Patrick Beverley (-120) OR Alex Caruso (-175) o1.5 stocks:
The value pick is swayed heavily in Beverley’s direction, but I don’t mind their odds because they’ve been cash-grabbers.
Caruso’s recorded at least two stocks — steals and blocks — in three of his final five regular season games and in the play-in game against Toronto … in the first quarter.
Caruso dealt with a bad foot at the tail-end of the regular season, so he wasn’t playing a high-minute total every game. But he played 31 minutes Wednesday and could see 25- to 30-plus minutes again Friday, should he stay out of foul trouble. In the 32 games he’s played at least 25 minutes, he’s recorded two-plus stocks 22 times, including in 10 of the 12 games he appeared for at least 30 minutes (not including Wednesday).
Beverley, who also tallied a pair of stocks Wednesday, posted two or more stocks in 10 of his final 14 regular season games, averaging 2.1 (1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks).
It’s oftentimes hard projecting who will have many stocks; Miami was middle-of-the-pack in turnover percentage (13th) and has only allowed 3.9 blocks against per 100 possessions, tied with Milwaukee, Boston, Dallas and Brooklyn for the second-fewest mark in the Association.
That said, I’m expecting Chicago’s two high-energy guards to showcase their energy early and often in a hostile environment between two of the most physical teams in the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler o39.5 PRA (-120):
Jimmy Butler has loved playing his old squad.
In 12 career games against the Bulls, Butler’s averaged 24.5 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 assists on 60.5 percent true shooting. His career scoring numbers against Chicago, albeit in a much smaller sample, is the most compared to every other team by a considerable margin (next closest: 21.7 PPG vs. Lakers).
Butler had an uncharacteristically shaky finishing game against Atlanta, ultimately finishing with 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting with four rebounds and nine assists. I don’t expect that to repeat itself Friday with their season on the line.
If Miami comes away with a victory, it’ll be on the back of “Playoff Jimmy” Butler. In his last four elimination games, Butler’s averaged 42.8 PRA — points, rebounds and assists — and eclipsed 40 three times. Miami’s shooting struggles aside, I expect Butler to have a big game.
Favorite Same-Game Parlay (+425):
Bulls +9.5 (-180)
DeMar DeRozan 20+ points (-190)
Jimmy Butler 25+ points (-170)
Nikola Vucevic 10+ rebounds (-165)
I already know what you’re thinking: A four-leg same-game parlay at +425, when the last one was +390?! Why do you keep being so conservative?
Respectfully, I’m trying to help you win money. You win some, you lose some. I lose quite frequently (i.e. Tuesday, and every other time I do these posts), but that’s not entirely the point. First off, I don’t think Miami wins this game by double digits — only 12 of its 44 wins came by double figures, the seventh-fewest leaguewide.
DeMar DeRozan’s playoff struggles are well-documented, but he scored 23 points against a feisty Toronto squad and shredded Miami’s defense all season, averaging 28.3 points on 71.6 percent true shooting. That caliber of efficiency is not sustainable, but scoring 20 is still a doable mark, even on the road.
The Heat was a disaster rebounding the rock Tuesday. They got out-rebounded by 24 (63-39), surrendering 22 offensive rebounds and 26 second-chance points.
I don’t expect that to repeat itself. Miami sported the NBA’s fourth-best defensive rebounding percentage (73.3) and allowed the third-fewest second-chance points (12.3) per 100 possessions. Though Vucevic has been a successful rebounder against Miami regardless.
He’s posted double-digit boards in 13 of his last 16 meetings against the Heat (averaging 11.8), dating back to the start of 2019-20. That includes 11 of the 13 games against Adebayo (also averaging 11.8). This season, he’s posted games of 17, 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively, and I expect him to reach that threshold yet again against a Heat squad that hasn’t been a good shooting team all season.
Take the cheddar, or not. Let’s ride.