Chicago Bulls miss the NBA playoffs for a 2nd consecutive season after a 112-91 meltdown in Miami

Chicago Bulls miss the NBA playoffs for a 2nd consecutive season after a 112-91 meltdown in Miami

MIAMI — The Chicago Bulls crashed out of the NBA Play-In Tournament with a 112-91 collapse against the Miami Heat on Friday, ending another disappointing season without a trip to the playoffs.

Friday’s matchup was supposed to be a lighter challenge for the Bulls after Heat star Jimmy Butler was ruled out of the game with an MCL injury suffered in Wednesday’s play-in opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.

With the same stakes on the line last season in the play-in tournament, the Bulls had commanded the first three quarters — until Butler took over in the final minutes to steal away a win on the way to an NBA Finals run. But with the Heat’s clutch player off the board Friday, the Bulls seemed positioned to slip into the playoffs for the first time since 2022.

Instead, they fell apart.

After an uncharacteristically hot night of shooting Wednesday in their first play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Bulls went only 13-for-43 from behind the 3-point arc — and 38% from the field. Coby White scored only 13 points after dropping 42 on the Hawks two nights prior. The Bulls coughed up 17 points off 12 turnovers and struggled heavily against overwhelming defensive pressure from the Heat at the rim.

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting, but it wasn’t nearly close enough to balance out the offense.

“DeMar was the only one that was scoring in that first half,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It was hard for us when we were not scoring and they were scoring. I think our guys were trying to compete. There were plays where our guys were trying to mix it up a little bit and trying to get to the glass and trying to create second-chance opportunities.

“Our guys tried to battle through a very, very difficult shooting game.”

The Heat — who earned the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the top-seeded Celtics in the first round beginning Sunday in Boston — weren’t perfect, and their offense was streaky. They went on a 19-0 run to take a commanding lead in the first quarter, then went five minutes without scoring in the second quarter. But the Bulls could never capitalize on those moments as their shooting fell ice cold from every area of the court.

And the Heat absorbed every mistake with a scorching shooting performance, finishing 14-for-33 on 3-pointers.

The Bulls ended the season with a 39-43 record, missing the playoffs and finishing under .500 for the second consecutive season.