Miami (2-4) were on the short end of a 125-122 overtime scoreline against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. Dion Waiters tied a career high with 33 points and Kelly Olynyk added 23 off the bench, but the Heat committed 24 turnovers that led to 31 points and were outscored 32-17 at the foul line.
For the second time during this losing streak, Miami’s inability to defend on the perimeter proved costly. Minnesota made 11 of 23 from 3-point range, and the Heat are allowing teams to hit at a 40.8 percent clip from beyond the arc overall.
Chicago (1-4) were unable to build on their first win of the season as they were throttled 101-69 at home by Oklahoma City on Saturday night. Rookie Lauri Markkanen hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points, but the Bulls shot a woeful 28.2 percent.
The Bulls have failed to shoot better than 47.7 percent in any game this season and are last in the league at 38.5 percent; no other team in the NBA is shooting below 42.2 percent through games played Monday. Unsurprisingly, Chicago are last in the league in scoring at 89.8 points per game, 6.1 points below 29th-place Utah.
Three keys to the game
Filling in for Whiteside - The Heat are wrapping up a six-game home stand, and while Hassan Whiteside participated in the shoot around before Monday's game, he missed his fifth straight contest. One almost figures coach Erik Spoelstra would let him sit this game and have him fresh for the Heat's six-game road trip. That means the team could use another strong performance from Olynyk and starter Bam Adebayo as a 1-2 punch. Adebayo nearly doubled his season totals with 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Wolves and did a credible job defensively against Karl-Anthony Towns. The pair will have to contend with Brook Lopez if Whiteside is unavailable.
Bulls need better shots - Everyone was curious to see what Fred Hoiberg's ball-movement offense would look like, and so far, it remains a large work in progress. Chicago settled for 3-pointers far too often against Oklahoma City, and their 27.0 percent accuracy from deep was nearly as bad as their overall mark. Kris Dunn had eight points and three assists in his season debut, but the ball-handlers must get the scorers in better positions.
Enter the Dragic - This could be a game where the Heat point guard takes over offensively given the struggles in the Bulls' backcourt. Goran Dragic has been quietly effective, averaging 20.0 points on 55.3 percent shooting in his last three games and getting his points mainly by going to the basket. But with Chicago also inconsistent defending on the perimeter, Dragic may be able to get plenty of open looks from beyond the arc.
Matchup to watch
Kris Dunn and Justin Holiday vs Dion Waiters - After finally showing the type of play that led to his $52 million contract in the offseason, Waiters has a favorable matchup in his bid to follow it up with another strong game. Waiters has averaged 16.8 points on this home stand, but has yet to find his stroke from 3-point range (8 for 28). Holiday leads the Bulls in scoring at 15.8 points per game but has made just 33.3 percent of his shots. Dunn, who is still rounding into game shape, is more of a ball-handling guard but has the size to fluster Waiters on the defensive end.
Chicago Bulls projected starting lineup
PG - Jerian Grant | SG - Justin Holiday | C - Robin Lopez | SF - Paul Zipser | PF - Lauri Markkanen
Miami Heat projected starting lineup
PG - Goran Dragic | SG - Dion Waiters | C - Bam Adebayo | SF - Josh Richardson | PF - James Johnson
Dragic is a strong play considering he had 47 points and 22 assists on 22-of-39 shooting in his last two games versus Chicago, averaging well above his career mark of 14.5 points in 17 lifetime games against them. Olynyk has reached double figures in his last six games against the Bulls, averaging 14.2 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 9 of 20 from 3-point range.
There is no current betting line due to Whiteside's uncertain status, but the Heat are the stronger play here since they are more desperate to get a win ahead of their six-game road trip. Miami are also 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games against Central Division opponents and 6-1 against the spread in their last seven versus the Bulls.
It's important to remember that this is, to put it charitably, not a good Bulls team. Their only win came at home against an Atlanta Hawks team playing without their top scorer, and mainly because they were able to beat the Hawks on the offensive glass to overcome 36.0 percent shooting. Miami have a pair of guards who can score in Dragic and Waiters, and they are coming off their best offensive effort of the season in terms of points and shooting percentage. Look for Miami to gain a split of their home stand and take to the road with good vibes after a 105-88 win over Chicago.
This game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Sun and NBC Sports Chicago. Tip-off time is 7:30 pm ET.
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