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10 Observations: Heat earn consecutive play-in victory over the Bulls, ending their season

The Bulls traveled to Miami to take on the Heat in their final play-in game. Here are 10 observations

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Welcome to a play-in rematch from last season, where the Bulls traveled to Miami to take on the Heat in hopes of nabbing the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

They failed at that task, losing the game, 112-91.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

---- The Bulls came into this one in (kinda) healthy. Ayo Dosunmu (thigh), Andre Drummond (ankle) and Alex Caruso --- who injured his ankle against the Hawks on Wednesday --- were all made available before the game.

The Heat are without Jimmy Butler, who significantly injured his MCL in their play-in loss on Wednesday against the 76ers. They will have Duncan Robinson at their disposal, however.

---- Coby White is coming into this game fresh off of a career-high 42-point performance against the Hawks on Wednesday. He's exploded this season and head coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged his growth pregame.

"His confidence level has gone up. His usage rate has gone up. The ball's in his hands more," Spoelstra said before the game. "(He) leads the league in volume of pick-and-rolls. He's involved in a lot of them. He's just grown as a player. He's had to weather some ups and downs during his career. You have to respect someone that's kinda done it in a different path and not necessarily immediately."

---- The Bulls struggled mightily on offense in the first frame, despite getting some open looks. Erik Spoelstra drew up some incredible coverage on DeMar DeRozan, doubling him from the top when he has the ball. They also trapped Nikola Vucevic when he received the ball in the post. The defense was excellent.

---- The first frame finished with a Heat advantage, 34-17. The Bulls shot a paltry 26.1% from the field and 23.1% from 3-point range. The Heat, on the other hand, finished hitting 12-of-23 field goals, including three 3-pointers. But remember, the Bulls came back in one of their earlier matchups with the Heat from a 22-1 first-quarter deficit.

---- There was a 4:38 stretch during the second quarter where the Heat didn't make a shot. Once they finally did, the Bulls were still down 14 points. The Heat opened the door for the Bulls to craft a comeback in that window, but they continued to struggle, missing several open looks in the second frame.

---- The Bulls reeled in a once 20-point lead for the Heat in the second quarter, trailing by 10 points, 47-37, at halftime. I'm sure there are plenty of Bulls fans --- myself included --- yelling at their televisions for the Bulls to stop shooting 3-pointers. They shot 23 to the Heat's 18 shots in the first half. The Bulls made five, the Heat made six. It's drive-the-basket time. That has to be part of the adjustments for the second half.

---- Tyler Herro continues to be the snakehead for the Heat without Butler. He started loosening up in the third quarter, throwing a behind-the-back pass to Caleb Martin for a wide-open 3-pointer, which he made. He finished with 24 points.

---- A pivotal sequence in the third quarter: the Heat crafted a 10-0 run from a 5-point possession that saw two baskets after a Caruso turnover from an inbounds pass. On the other end, Delon Wright drew an offensive foul on a Drummond screen. Herro followed up that possession with a 3-pointer, putting the Heat back up 20 points. Careless basketball.

---- The Bulls entered the fourth quarter with a 22-point deficit. It stayed a deficit, ending their season to the tune of "We want Boston!" chants at the Kaseya Center. This is the second consecutive season the Heat have knocked out the Bulls in the play-in tournament. They defeated the Bulls, 112-91.

---- The Bulls finished the season 39-43 in the regular season with a second straight play-in loss, falling short of the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. The Bulls haven't been to the playoffs since the 2021-22 season.

Change is coming this offseason, certainly. Stay tuned.

P.S. - Thanks to everyone who has followed NBC Sports Chicago's coverage of the Bulls this season!

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