Heat dispose of Bulls, claim East playoff berth

Tyler Herro recorded 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the host Miami Heat punched their ticket to the playoffs with a convincing 112-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in the one-sided win in the final Eastern Conference play-in game. The Heat will face the top-seeded Boston Celtics on Sunday in the first round of the playoffs. Miami and Boston met in the two last East finals, with Boston prevailing in 2022 and the Heat winning last season.

Miami dominated Friday’s contest even with star Jimmy Butler sitting out with an MCL injury to his right knee. Butler was injured in Wednesday’s play-in loss against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kevin Love contributed 16 points and seven rebounds, and Bam Adebayo scored 13 points for the Heat.

DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points and Nikola Vucevic had 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Bulls. Coby White had just 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting after scoring 42 points against the Atlanta Hawks two nights earlier.

Javonte Green added 12 points off the bench, and Ayo Dosunmu had 10 on 3-of-15 shooting for Chicago.

Miami also defeated the Bulls last season in the battle for the final spot in the East. The Heat eventually lost to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.

Miami shot 46.3 percent from the field, including 14 of 33 from 3-point range.

The Bulls made 38 percent of their attempts and were 13 of 43 from behind the arc.

Chicago trailed 70-60 after a basket by Green with 3:15 left in the third quarter, and then Miami delivered the knockout punch.

Delon Wright and Herro made treys during the quarter-ending 12-0 run for an 82-60 lead, and Jaquez scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 24.

Jaquez later converted a three-point play and added two free throws 59 seconds later as the Heat built a 99-70 with 7:05 left in the game and cruised to the finish.

DeRozan’s trey gave Chicago an early 11-6 lead before Miami rolled off 19 straight points. Haywood Highsmith scored the final basket of the spurt as the Heat held a 25-11 advantage with 4:52 left in the opening quarter.

Miami later led by 19 in the quarter before taking a 34-17 lead into the second period.

Chicago trimmed its deficit to 47-37 at the break.

DeRozan scored 15 in the half for the Bulls, while Jaquez led Miami with 10.