History was made in this NBA Play-In Tournament as both No. 10 seeds won their first games after zero No. 10 seeds failed to win a game in the first two years of this competition. The Chicago Bulls overcame a 16-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat the Toronto Raptors and will now play the Miami Heat on Friday night for the right to be the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. More history was made as Miami became the first No. 7 seed to lose after the Atlanta Hawks took a 15-point lead into halftime and cruised to a double-digit win over the Heat.
The Los Angeles Lakers narrowly avoided the same fate, but they needed overtime to beat the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota will now look to get into the playoffs through the play-in tournament for the second straight season when the T-Wolves face the Oklahoma City Thunder after OKC upset the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Chicago Bulls (+5.5) at Miami Heat
Don’t be surprised if this NBA betting line drops to 4.5 or 4 before it closes. Chicago ended the season on a high note and proved that it wanted to make the playoffs, while Miami continues to just go through the motions. Although the Heat have a very talented team, they have underperformed this season and are the only team still playing that has a negative point differential. Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry had big games for Miami against Atlanta on Tuesday night, but Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both disappointed. No other player had more than six points, and Caleb Martin failed to score despite being on the floor for 29 minutes.
Chicago represents a tough test for Miami as the Bulls are very strong defensively. The Bulls rank fifth in defensive rating, while the Heat only rank ninth in that department. Additionally, Chicago had a slightly better offense than Miami this season as the role players for the Heat have really struggled.
One of the keys to this game will be how Adebayo handles Nikola Vucevic. Chicago doesn’t shoot the three very well, and Vucevic has come up big in the three previous meetings between these teams this season. He has notched a double-double in all three of his games against the Heat, and that has helped the Bulls win all three of those games in the regular season. A Zach LaVine performance like we saw on Wednesday night would be icing on the cake after LaVine went off for 39 points in Chicago’s win over Toronto. There’s a lot to like with Chicago, and I think the Bulls could definitely pull off the upset here.
Minnesota Timberwolves (-5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
It seems like Minnesota stumbled upon something in the absence of Rudy Gobert. The Timberwolves’ decision to give up so much for Gobert will go down as one of the most stupefying trades in league history, especially because it seems like Karl-Anthony Towns plays much better without him. We saw Towns come alive in the second half against New Orleans in the season finale after Gobert was kicked out of the game, as he finished with 30 points and shot better than 50% from the floor. That continued against the Lakers on Tuesday night when he had 24 points and 11 rebounds while finishing with a +18 in an overtime loss.
That defeat does give the T-Wolves plenty of confidence heading into their showdown with the OKC Thunder for the No. 8 seed. Anthony Edwards had one of his worst games in the loss to the Lakers, turning the ball over four times while going 0-9 from three-point range, and it’s highly unlikely he’s bad against the Thunder.
The Thunder have shown that they might be ready to compete next year with strong performances from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Lou Dort. However, there is simply no depth on this team. SGA, Giddey, and Dort combined to score 90 of OKC’s 123 points against New Orleans, and the rest of the Thunder combined to go 12 of 34 from the field. That makes Minnesota the play by the NBA betting odds.