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Play-In Open Thread: Heat and Bulls, Wolves and Thunder vie for final two playoff spots

Tonight is our final taste of the non-playoff postseason.

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Two play-in tournament games remain to determine the final two participants for the NBA playoffs. We have one final nightly appetizer before the Sixers begin our main course at 1:00pm ET tomorrow. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap for this evening.

Miami Heat (44-38) vs. Chicago Bulls (40-42) - 7:00pm ET - TNT

Chicago came back against Toronto thanks in large part to the Raptors shooting 18-of-36 from the free throw line. The star from that performance was DeMar DeRozan’s daughter, Diar, who screamed her father’s team to the top.

Diar won’t be in attendance tonight because DeMar said she has to be in school. This reminds me of the Boy Meets World episode where Cory’s dad lets him stay up to watch the Phillies no-hitter. Years from now, do you remember what you learned in school that day or do you remember staying up to watch a no-hitter with your dad? Priorities, people.

Miami looked terrible against Atlanta in the 7-vs-8 game, and we should probably stop thinking Heat Culture is going to suddenly transform what has been a bad Miami team all year. Regardless, Jimmy Butler facing his former club where he spent his first six years in the league with the season on the line should make for compelling viewing. Who wants to fight to be the team to lose to Milwaukee in four or five games?

Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-42) - 9:30pm ET - ESPN

The Wolves looked like they were going to pull the upset against the Lakers, and then collapsed in the second half only to lose in overtime. After being suspended last game, Rudy Gobert is still trending towards a game-time decision due to his back issue. The Thunder play fairly small and spread out, so it might be better for the Wolves to go with Karl-Anthony Towns as the five for longer periods of time anyway. Anthony Edwards shot just 3-of-17 with Jarred Vanderbilt locking him up; he’ll need to bounce back against Lu Dort and company.

The Thunder eliminated the Pelicans after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a go-ahead floater with 28 seconds later. The future of Oklahoma City’s backcourt looks incredibly bright. SGA dropped 32 points in Wednesday night’s win, while Josh Giddey recorded 31 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds. Minnesota won three of four meetings between the teams this season, but the last game took place all the way back in mid-December. The top-seeded Denver Nuggets seem a bit more vulnerable than their Eastern Conference counterpart, having struggled down the stretch; who emerges here might be able to make things slightly interesting.

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