5 takeaways from the Miami Heat’s loss to the Chicago Bulls

Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Miami Heat came up short against the Chicago Bulls, 105-100.

1. Better energy

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Following a lackluster game against the Cleveland Cavaliers which resulted in a 114-84 blowout, the Heat from the outset looked much more energized. Hassan Whiteside was particularly aggressive, posting 11 points and five rebounds in the first quarter.

The Heat were aided by the return of Josh Richardson, who missed the past six games with an ankle injury. Richardson’s return meant the Heat had eight players who at least 22 minutes of court time. This meant more regular substitutions could be made for a team playing its second back-to-back in five nights.

2. Dragic and Whiteside led from the front

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It was crucial for the Heat’s leaders to step up, and Goran Dragic played one of his best games of the season. Dragic compiled 21 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in 34 minutes. He was constantly attacking and probing the Bulls defence. He was instrumental in getting Hassan Whiteside involved early, with Whiteside bouncing back from a substandard performance the previous night in Cleveland.

Whiteside finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in his 32 minutes. Head coach Erik Spoelstra was disappointed in Whiteside’s effort and contributions the previous night, however he made amends in this game despite shorting just 9-of-19 from the field.

3. Free-throw woes continue

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Free-throw shooting has been an achilles heel all season for the Heat, and this game was no exception. The Heat shot 61 percent from the line, finishing 11-of-18 overall. Contrast that to the Bulls, who finished 28-of-31 overall for a 90 percent shooting clip.

In a five point ball game that call down to the final seconds, these misses are crucial and will continue to cost the Heat as the season progresses.

It’s no coincidence that the Heat currently rank last in the league in free-throw percentage, whereas the Bulls are ranked fourth.

4. Bench contributions

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Despite being under-manned, the Heat bench proved a terrific contribution posting 44 points and 21 rebounds as a unit. Tyler Johnson totaled 15 points and four assists, while the returning Josh Richardson posted 11 points and four assists.

Willie Reed backed up his first double-double as a member of Heat with eight points and seven rebounds. Amidst Reed’s 15 minutes court time were a huge dunk in traffic and a monstrous block resulting in a jump ball.

Derrick Williams also backed up his impressive showing in Cleveland, contributing 10 points and eight rebounds. Williams is starting to make the most of the absence of forward James Johnson, and will no doubt be attempting to cement his place in the rotation.

5. Benchmark game

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This game can be called upon as the season progresses as to what can be achieved when all players are giving it their all. The Heat trailed by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter.

On the second night of a back-to-back and with a number of players missing, this game could very easily have turned into a one-sided affair.

However, the Heat showed great resilience and were basically neck-and-neck with the Bulls throughout the entire final term. As Heat announcer Eric Reid stated in the final moments of the game, “the Heat have played their hearts out.” Regardless of the result, that’s all you can ask for.

The Heat will return to Miami and will kick off a six-game home stint on Monday night against the Washington Wizards. Game starts at 7:30 pm ET.

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