Sunday, September 24 2023

The Miami Heat played in 54 clutch games this season (second most in the league), so it was only fitting that their season came down to one more on Friday night.

Miami won 60% of those games and had a +14.7 net rating in the clutch — that comfort in the big moments showed up, too.

The Heat closed the eight-seed play-in game on a 22-6 run – giving up just one point in the final three minutes — and pulled away from the Bulls down the stretch for a 102-91 win. Jimmy Butler — the player the Bulls decided six years ago was not worth a supermax contract — scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth.

With the win, the Miami Heat lock up the No.8 seed and will fly to Milwaukee for the short turnaround Game 1 on Sunday against Giannis Antetokounmpo and company.

The Chicago Bulls’ season comes to a disappointing end and they head into the summer with questions about the roster and what needs to happen to maximize it.

The primary reason the Heat fell from the No.1 seed a year ago to fighting to escape the play-in this year was they struggled as a team from 3 (27th in the league). For example, Max Strus shot 41% from beyond the arc in the 2021-22 season, but this year that fell to a pedestrian 35%.

Strus showed up with the season on the line. He hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the first quarter on his way to 23 first-half points. And then with the game on the line he was clutch (he finished with 31).

Miami also played some of their best defense of the season, the Bulls didn’t get a shot in the restricted area during the first half, and were 5-of-16 from 3 before the break.

But the Bulls made runs in the second led by DeMar DeRozan, who had 26 points. Zach LaVine struggled against the Heat defense, scoring 15 on 6-of-21 shooting. Chicago got some help off the tench with Coby White (14 points, including a couple of clutch 3-pointers) and Andre Drummond, who had eight rebounds and was a force on the glass for a stretch.

Miami played much better than they did losing the Hawks in the opening play-in game, but they will have to find another gear or two if they are going to make things interesting against the top-seeded Bucks.

Check out more on the Heat

PBT Podcast: Looking ahead to first round of NBA playoffs NBA playoffs first round schedule dates, times, where to watch Trae Young, Hawks bench outwork Heat and earn No. 7 seed with 116-105 win

Butler, Heat come up big in clutch again to beat Bulls, advance as No. 8 seed originally appeared on

Source: Yahoo Sports


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