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Free Play Breakdown & Prediction: Bulls vs. Heat (10/19/2022)

By Ryan Potts
October 19, 2022

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (10/19 @ 7:30 p.m. EST.)

Line: Heat -6
Total: 217.5

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat Breakdown and Betting Odds

The Chicago Bulls open their season with a trip to South Beach to face the Miami Heat on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Heat are 6-point favorites over the Bulls. The over/under is set at 217.5 points.

Last season, the Heat swept their four games with the Bulls including double-digit wins in all three games. In both games played in Miami, Chicago failed to score 100 points, losing by 19.5 points per game. Both teams made the playoffs, but the Bulls lost in the first round while the Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Chicago Bulls Overview

The Bulls were one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference until they swooned after the All-Star Break. They fell from a 53-win pace before the All-Star Break to a 22-win pace after. Much of this slide coincided with the absence of point guard Lonzo Ball. Ball is not the headliner on the squad, but the Bulls won 22 of 35 games with Ball. Ball is still out with a lingering knee injury, so Alex Caruso should get many of the point guard minutes.

The Bulls have two All-Stars in Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan who take much of the scoring load. DeRozan poured in 27.9 points per game last season, being one of the most efficient shooters inside the arc. LaVine was a top-flight option from deep, landing 38.9% of his three-point shots. He scored 24.4 points per game. Both players live at the free-throw line, and they knock down over 85% of their freebies.

Down low, the Bulls will look to Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic was an All-Star in 2019 and 2021. He has been good for 18.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in his first 99 games in Chicago. Williams only played 17 games last year, but he showed promise as a rookie. He made the second All-Rookie team with 9.2 points per game on 48% from the field. He showed signs of a three-point shot, knocking down 54 of 138 attempts (39.1%).

Miami Heat Overview

The Heat came eerily close to a trip to the NBA Finals after a missed Jimmy Butler jump shot. They had the best record in the East, and they play well defensively at every level. Last season, the Heat had the fourth-ranked defense by points allowed per game and were fifth in defensive rating. A key piece for Miami’s defensive success is Bam Adebayo. Adebayo has been a member of the second All-Defense team in each of the last three seasons. He is an effective rebounder, and his defensive efforts go beyond the stat sheet.

Butler helps with the perimeter defense, but he is a two-way superstar. He craves the ball in big moments, driving Miami to key victories (and one tough loss in the East Finals). Since joining the Heat, Butler is averaging 20.9 points per game on 47.7% from the field and 85.5% from the free-throw line. He is a six-time All-Star with five All-Defense nods and four All-NBA nods.

Beyond Butler and Adebayo, the Heat will need the likes of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Victor Oladipo to play well. Lowry is a veteran presence with durability issues. Robinson is a streaky shooter who alternates between being automatic and unplayable. Herro and Oladipo are sparkplug bench pieces that will supplement the offense.

My Pick: Heat -6

Picking games early in the NBA season is always a crapshoot, but leaning with the better team at home is advisable. For the game, Heat -6 is the best bet. The Heat went 29-12 at home last season, a major reason why they were the top seed in the conference. The Heat have continuity on their side, and they should be the better team offensively and defensively. If it comes down to a late-game situation necessitating free throws, Butler and Herro are two of the best.

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