2024 Play-In Tournament: Butler-Less Miami Heat Run Through Chicago Bulls, Will Face Boston Celtics In The 1st Round

Over the course of the past two seasons, the Miami Heat have become the face of adversity in the NBA. Their historic run in last year's post season saw them secure the 8th seed through the play-in game and still manage to make their way to the finals. They have once again managed to secure the number 8 seed even without the the help of the injured Jimmy Butler.
Tyler Herro and Jaime Jacquez Jr Combined For 45 Points On The Night

Tyler Herro and Jaime Jacquez Jr Combined For 45 Points On The Night

Photo : X/@miamiheat
Miami's passionate fans made their desire known throughout the fourth quarter: "We want Boston!" their chants echoed through the arena. The basketball gods, or perhaps the play-in tournament format, answered their prayers. The Heat, despite missing Jimmy Butler with a knee injury, defeated the Chicago Bulls 112-91 and secured the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
This victory sets the stage for a highly anticipated rematch between the Heat and the Boston Celtics, a series that has dominated the East the past two seasons. Miami, once again the underdog, will face a Boston team widely considered the favorite to win the NBA championship.
The Heat's triumph wasn't a display of offensive brilliance. Instead, gritty defense fueled their victory. A dominant 19-0 run in the first quarter completely shifted the momentum, turning an early deficit into a comfortable lead. Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. impressed with 21 points, while Tyler Herro's well-rounded performance of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists nearly yielded a triple-double.
Chicago's offense sputtered throughout the night, managing only 38% shooting. DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 22 points, but otherwise, scoring was scarce. This marked the second consecutive year Miami eliminated Chicago in the Eastern Conference's final play-in game.
The first half was a defensive slugfest. Miami's 19-0 run was fueled by a combination of stifling defense and opportunistic scoring. However, their offensive efficiency soon dipped, mirroring Chicago's struggles. Both teams endured stretches of horrendous shooting, with Chicago missing 14 of 15 shots at one point. Despite the offensive woes, Miami clung to their lead thanks to their defensive dominance.
The Heat now find themselves in a familiar position – the Eastern Conference's 8th seed. Last season, they defied expectations and reached the NBA Finals from this very spot. This year's challenge appears even steeper. The Celtics, boasting an NBA-best 64 regular-season wins, are still likely stinging from their Game 7 defeat to Miami last year. The upcoming series promises to be another intense battle between these two Eastern Conference powerhouses.
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