The Miami Heat, who beat the Chicago Bulls 102-91 in Florida, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who outscored Oklahoma City 120-95 after settling internal tensions on Friday, will relive the thrill of the NBA playoffs, which are the last two to join.
Last season, Miami only fell there in the conference final against the Boston Celtics, while Minnesota disappeared there from the start, victim of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jimmy Butler and Max Strus, authors of 31 points each, that is to say more than 60% of the Heat’s points between them, hurt the Bulls very badly.
Strus was particularly valuable, scoring one of his seven three-pointers 1 min 14 sec from the buzzer, to give the Heat some air (96-91) when the game was extremely tight. He then managed his three free throws to secure the victory for his team.
“It’s incredible!” exclaimed one of the heroes of the evening at the Kaseya Center in Miami. “And I’m not going to lie when I tell you that this victory has an even more special flavor,” continued Strus.
The 27-year-old player, who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, indeed played his first minutes in the NBA under the colors of the Bulls in November 2019 against … Miami, which he joined the following season.
The Heat’s victory only came in the dying moments, against a feisty Bulls, who took the lead for the first time late in the third quarter thanks to a field goal from Zach LaVine and scored three points. ahead at the start of the last quarter after an award-winning basket by Coby White (90-87).
– The Timberwolves with a major five –
DeMar DeRozan once again led Chicago in scoring with 26 points. But they were not enough for the Bulls, winners of Miami three times in three regular season meetings, to obtain a fourth on their opponent of the day.
It is now the Milwaukee Bucks of Giannis Antetokoumpo, the best team in the Eastern Conference, which awaits the Heat in the 1st round.
In Minneapolis, the Timberwolves, whose last days have been animated by the “case” Rudy Gobert, who punched teammate Kyle Anderson in the chest during a timeout last Sunday.
Suspended for one game by its leaders after this escapade, the triple best defender in the NBA (2018, 2019, 2021) was back on the floor on Friday evening. His back pain did not prevent him from scoring 21 points and taking ten rebounds in a game that his team largely dominated.
The Timberwolves, who will challenge the Denvers Nuggets at the opening of the final phase, flew over the meeting and were up to 29 points ahead at the start of the fourth quarter.
And while Karl-Anthony Towns took on the leading scorer role with 28 points, it’s Wolves’ starting five that is to be congratulated as a whole: the five players who made it up all finished with a total of two points. figures.