Pacers, Bulls clinch final playoff spots in Eastern Conference


Chicago was led by Jimmy Butler's 25 points.

And one that left the Brooklyn Nets indifferent, holding out their mainstays in the loss to the Chicago Bulls that allowed the Bulls to secure the final playoff berth in the NBA Eastern Conference by virtue of the season series tiebreaker against the Heat, with both teams closing at.500.

Chicago (40-41) can give second-year coach Fred Hoiberg his first playoff appearance by beating the Nets (20-61).

Boston wrapped up the No. 1 seed with a win over Milwaukee. Did the Bulls pay them off? That was in part because Markieff Morris did a very good job of locking him down. No. 1 seed on the road, we'll take it, we're in there.

The Miami Heat need this win to have any shot of sneaking into the playoffs. "Everybody had a challenging season".

The young coach who said earlier in the season that he "misses Dwyane Wade," said later that he was "grateful and blessed" to coach the players now on the roster. The teams' most recent playoff history was in the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals, when the Hawks won in six games. We had that four-game [winning] streak against four really good teams that really got us back in the playoff picture.

"I just want everybody to lock in and realize how important this game is", Butler said.

The Nets announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez will all sit out due to rest, while injuries will sideline Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring).

The Heat (41-41) have been left out of the postseason party, partly thanks to the Hawks (43-39) and Nets (20-62) going less than all out in their respective visits to in and Chicago.

More news: Labour MP calls snap general election a 'vanity project'

Miami beat the Washington Wizards 110-102 but fell short, with the Bulls thrashing the Brooklyn Nets 112-73.

"I'm going to be honest as a competitor, I understand it, I understand the point of view that some of you have, some of the press has and maybe other teams, I do understand it", Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game. "We're looking out for the best for the Nets".

Archie Goodwin scored 20 points for the Nets and KJ McDaniels finished with 15. The Nets were 3-for-33 from 3-point range.

Coach Spoelstra definitely got his wish, as his team got a standing ovation from the Heat crowd during the final minute of the fourth quarter. We always enjoyed getting better. We just got unbelievable faith in each other and I got incredible amount of respect and love for these guys. "Our perimeter shooting is not where it needs to be". Unless a player is resting for the postseason, or legitimately hurt, they should be playing in the season finale.

However, the Bulls still have a big hill to climb with a first-round matchup against the Celtics looming.

Heat shooting guard Josh Richardson, who was in the starting lineup for the last 13 games in Dion Waiters' absence, had 15 points on 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc, while power forward James Johnson almost notched a triple-double with 12 points, eight boards and eight assists.

Rondo was back in the starting lineup. "I'm with the Bulls now". The ninth-year coach has now missed the playoffs twice in his career, as well as won two National Basketball Association titles.

"I don't know if I've ever felt this way about a team before". The Bulls started cautious as well, three turnovers in their first six possessions as the teams were tied at 11 seven minutes into the game. It's just a great job of being resilient by our players of hanging in there and sticking in there.

"I can understand why the fans would be a little bit upset, but if you look across the league, every team that has an opportunity to do it is doing it".