Zach LaVine speaks out on Friday’s do-or-die play-in game between Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls

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A frustrating and inconsistent season for the Miami Heat will come down to Friday and their second play-in tournament game, which will be against the Chicago Bulls.

Zach LaVine, one of the Bulls’ top stars, expressed a sense of confidence going into the matchup.

The Heat are in this position after losing their first play-in game on Tuesday to the Atlanta Hawks, 116-105. They got beat badly on the boards (63-39) while giving up 22 offensive rebounds and allowing Atlanta’s bench to put up plenty of points.

All regular season long, Miami lacked size in its frontcourt, and it also had major problems generating enough points to win on a consistent basis. It finished last in the NBA in points per game, and it was just 27th in 3-point shooting percentage, something that had been a big strength for it over the last three years.

Chicago, meanwhile, finished with only the 10th-best record in the Eastern Conference, but it somehow managed to overcome a 19-point deficit against the Toronto Raptors in Canada during its first play-in contest to win, 109-105.

LaVine led the way in that game with 39 points while going 13-of-15 from the free-throw line.

The Heat will be at home versus the Bulls for this final play-in contest, which will be a fortunate advantage for them as they went 27-14 at Kaseya Center during the regular season but just 17-24 away from South Florida.

They have traditionally been dangerous in situations such as this over the last few years when their backs have been against the wall, but their inconsistencies this season are something to be very concerned about against a Chicago team that finished fifth in defensive rating and was particularly great on that end late in the regular season.

The winner of Friday’s contest will claim the eighth seed in the East and move on to the playoffs to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished with the best record in basketball in the regular season.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.