Bulls vs. Heat Play-In: Bet Underrated Chicago

Jim Turvey previews how to bet Bulls vs. Heat, including updated odds, picks & predictions for Friday's Play-In game.

Bulls vs. Heat Odds

Bulls Odds +5.5
Heat Odds -5.5
Over/Under 208.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat face off on Friday with a date against the Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on the line.

The Bulls enter the game on the back of a 19-point comeback victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, while the Heat last played Tuesday, suffering a somewhat embarrassing 116-105 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The ~vibes~ of these two teams are headed in opposite directions, but even beyond those ~vibes~, the Bulls match up well with the Heat.

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Chicago Bulls

Despite landing the 10 seed, the Bulls arguably put together a better season than last year when they went 46-36 and were the 6 seed.

Last year’s team had a negative Point Differential and used a lot of luck down the stretch of close games to finish so far above .500. This season proved that those close wins were indeed at least somewhat luck, and they crashed back down to earth and were actually one of the unluckiest teams in the league, with one of the worst records in the league in close games. This season’s Net Rating (+1.3) was actually higher than teams who didn’t need the Play-In like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.

But most notably, that Net Rating was higher than that of the Miami Heat (-0.3), who filled the Bulls role of last season as a team which had strong fortunes in close games. With a coach like Erik Spoelstra and a star like Jimmy Butler, there’s at least a path to viewing that “luck” as a bit of skill, but the overall point remains that these two teams are closer than some might assume based on seeding.

As such, I see value on the Bulls +5.5. The Heat have an extra day of rest, but neither will be playing a back-to-back, and the Heat have been a very poor home team against the spread this season, with a 15-26-1 record (-29.4% ROI) — the second-worst such record in the NBA this season.

Miami Heat

In addition to these two teams being around the same talent level, the Heat also don’t match up well with the Bulls.

The Bulls are famously a very two-point heavy team, finishing in the top five for percentage of shots from inside the arc. Two-point defense was a glaring weakness for the Heat this season, who allowed only the historically horrific Spurs to finish worse than them in regards to two-point defense.

The Heat are also overly reliant on Jimmy Butler in these types of games, and his play can often swing the result for the Heat. In their last game, he looked off and finished 6-of-19 from the field, missing lots of bunnies that he typically finishes. As such, it was no surprise to see the Heat as a whole struggle. The Bulls also have several strong defenders to throw at Butler (as well as at Tyler Herro), with Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverly at the top of that list.

Bulls-Heat Pick

For this game, I like the spread more than the moneyline, but I don’t hate either, and I like the Bulls for both. These two teams are much closer than the current 5.5-point spread suggests, as their net rating over the course of the season suggests.

I’d play the Bulls to +4.