The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat both had hopes of contending for the Eastern Conference title this season.

Instead Chicago is a game away from joining Miami at home during the playoffs.

These teams face off Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena for the final time this season.

The Bulls (30-46) and Heat (13-64) met in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. In 2006, Miami defeated Chicago 4-2 in the first round en route to its first NBA title, while in 2007, the Bulls knocked the Heat out in the first round before they lost 4-2 to Detroit in the conference semifinals.

Both teams had high expectations going into this season, but it's been a dismal one for each club. The injury-plagued Heat are on the verge of guaranteeing they will finish with the league's worst record while Chicago is a loss or an Atlanta win away from missing the playoffs for the first time in four years.

"The whole season, there's a lot to point at," Chicago's Luol Deng said. "Whatever it is, we just have to take it and accept it. I thought we worked hard and prepared ourselves physically. But there's a growth we have to do mentally. There's a lot we have to deal with mentally. I think we just need to grow up mentally. I don't think we had it this year."

The Bulls are coming off a 99-87 loss to Washington on Saturday. Ben Gordon scored 18 points and Larry Hughes added 16 for Chicago, which was without leading rebounder Drew Gooden (abdominal strain) and was outrebounded 53-28.

"It's tough to compete against somebody when they outrebound you by 25," interim coach Jim Boylan said. "They dominated us inside. We really didn't have enough big bodies and they took advantage of it."

Gooden, pulling down 9.3 boards a contest, is also expected to miss Tuesday's game.

The Bulls are looking to win their seventh straight over the Heat. They have beaten Miami twice this season, including a 126-96 road win on Jan. 16. Chicago last swept a season series from the Heat in 1991-92.

Miami has lost seven straight and 18 of 20, including a 91-75 defeat to Detroit on Sunday. Earl Barron scored 20 points and Chris Quinn added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Heat.

"Obviously, it's not the best situation, not the situation we thought we'd be in at the beginning of the year," Quinn said. "The only thing with five or six games remaining to do is go out there and play with pride, play as hard as we can and show what we can do out there."

Quinn, scoring 7.3 points in 55 games this season, has averaged 16.1 over the last eight.


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