Takeaways from Butler-less Heat’s playoff-clinching win over Bulls and a look at what’s ahead

Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 112-91 playoff-clinching win over the Chicago Bulls in an elimination game on Friday night at Kaseya Center as part of the NBA’s play-in tournament. The Heat advances to the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed to take on the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round, with Game 1 on Sunday at TD Garden (1 p.m., ABC):

The Heat didn’t have Jimmy Butler or Terry Rozier, but players throughout the rotation stepped up in their absence and the defense was again excellent to keep Miami’s season alive.

“What we talked about this morning was forget about how we got here,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You can be frustrated, it can feel like it sucks that we’re in the play-in and we lost the first game. But if you can get past all that, it’s like: ‘Alright, we get an opportunity today to have a game with this kind of competitive spirit and consequences.’”

The Heat made the most of that opportunity on Friday.

Without Butler (sprained MCL) and Rozier (neck spasms), Heat guard Tyler Herro stepped into a bigger offensive role to finish one assist shy of recording the second triple-double of his NBA career. Herro closed Friday’s win with 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 shooting on threes, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He finished with a team-best plus/minus of plus-32 in 33 minutes.

Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. started in place of Butler and didn’t disappoint, recording 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, six rebounds and six assists. He closed as a plus-21.

Heat center Bam Adebayo added 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks while spending most of the game defending Bulls star forward DeMar DeRozan. Adebayo was a plus-9.

Heat backup center Kevin Love contributed 16 points on 2-of-3 shooting from three-point range and 10-of-10 shooting from the foul line, seven rebounds and one assist in 12 minutes off the bench.

“Everybody played extremely well and stepped up to the plate when we needed it most, and we came out with a great win,” Jaquez said.

Those performances in addition to the Heat’s suffocating defense was enough to end the Bulls’ season in the play-in tournament for the second straight season.

The Heat, which closed the regular season with the NBA’s fifth-best defensive rating, limited the Bulls to just 91 points on 38 percent shooting from the field and 13-of-43 (30.2 percent) shooting from three-point range in the loss. It tied Chicago’s season-low for points.

The Heat set the tone early, using a 19-0 run in the first quarter to pull ahead by as many as 19 points in the opening period.

The Heat’s lead grew to as large as 20 points in the first half behind a defensive effort that held the Bulls to just 37 points on 27.3 percent shooting from the field and 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) shooting from three-point range in the first two quarters.

The Bulls made a few runs to pull within 10 points at halftime and cut the deficit to seven points early in the third quarter.

But after the Bulls trimmed the Heat’s lead to 10 points with 3:15 left in the third quarter, the Heat exploded for a 29-10 run to break the game open and pull ahead by 29 points with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter as “We want Boston” chants filled Kaseya Center.

The Heat totaled 65 points on 55.3 percent shooting from the field and 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) shooting on threes in the second half to cruise to the 21-point victory.

Along with Herro, Jaquez, Adebayo and Love, Haywood Highsmith and Caleb Martin also provided quality minutes for the Heat.

Highsmith finished with nine points, three rebounds and three steals in 31 minutes off the bench. He finished with a plus/minus of plus-10.

Martin ended the night with seven points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 25 minutes. He was a plus-16.

Meanwhile, DeRozan scored a team-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field for the Bulls.

The Heat improved to 14-1 this season when holding an opponent under 100 points and is now heading to the playoffs for the fifth straight season and the 23rd time in the 29 seasons since Pat Riley joined the organization in 1995.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in the playoffs,” Spoelstra said, “I’m grateful for this locker room to have this opportunity and I think they’re appreciative of it, as well.”

After not playing in five straight games because of a back injury, Duncan Robinson was back in the mix for the Heat but played limited minutes.

Robinson entered Friday’s game with 1:35 left in the first quarter off the Heat’s bench. It marked his first game as a reserve since Feb. 23 after starting in 17 straight appearances.

Robinson missed his first two three-point attempts of the night before making his third attempt from deep with 8:40 left in the second quarter.

Robinson’s first stint of the game lasted 7:32 in the first half. He then didn’t re-enter the game until there was 8:04 left in the fourth quarter with the Heat already ahead by 27 points.

Robinson finished the win with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from three-point range, three rebounds and one assist in 12 minutes off the bench.

“He’s been making progress. For him to be able to knock down a couple shots was great,” Spoelstra said of Robinson. “I notice all the overreactions he creates. Our offense looks different when he’s involved in a trigger. That will be needed in the next series.”

After missing the final four games of the regular season with a lingering back injury labeled as left facet syndrome, Robinson was also available and in uniform for Wednesday’s play-in game against the 76ers. But Robinson did not play Wednesday because he was still in the ramp-up process after missing time.

Robinson initially missed five games last month with the back issue before returning to play in five games and then again being sidelined by the injury for the final four games of the regular season.

Without Butler and Rozier, the Heat’s likely rotation to begin the playoffs was on display and it was effective on Friday.

Jaquez opened the game alongside Herro, Martin, Nikola Jovic and Adebayo. It marked the 36th different starting lineup that the Heat has used this season after setting a new franchise record with 35 different starting lineups this regular season.

The Heat used Highsmith, Love, Delon Wright and Robinson off the bench to complete its nine-man rotation.

The starting unit outscored the Bulls by 11 points in 17 minutes together.

The Heat’s reserves combined to outscore the Bulls’ bench 42-24.

While life without Butler began with a win on Friday, it will only get tougher for the Butler-less Heat from here against the top-seeded Celtics.

Butler missed his first game after spraining the MCL in his right knee early in Wednesday’s play-in loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s expected to miss several weeks, including the entirety of the Heat’s first-round playoff series against the Celtics.

Also, Rozier missed his sixth straight game with a neck injury and his status for the start of the playoffs is up in the air.

“I really feel for [Butler], I feel for Terry,” Spoelstra said ahead of Friday’s game. “They’re competitors at their hearts and their soul. They’ve put a lot into the season to be here for this time and that’s just sometimes how it goes. You can’t explain some of the things. It was unfortunate timing. I’ve seen Jimmy make that play a million times, shot fakes and nothing happened from it. It’s tough. I really just commend him and admire him for even just trying to gut it out in the second half even though he was far from 100 percent.”

The Heat also remains without Josh Richardson, who is out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his shoulder in early March.

Next up for the Heat is another playoff series against the Celtics.

It will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Heat and Celtics have faced off in the playoffs, with the previous three times coming in the East finals. The Heat won two of those three conference finals over the Celtics, including last season’s matchup to become the first No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals during a non-lockout-shortened season before falling to the Denver Nuggets in the championship series.

This time, the Heat and Celtics will meet in the first round. And this time, the Celtics enter as heavy favorites as the East’s top seed going up against an injury-depleted Heat team missing its best player in Butler.

“We’re not a regular eight seed and people know that for some reason,” Adebayo said with a smile.

Here’s the schedule for the first-round series between the Heat and Celtics:

Game 1 on Sunday at TD Garden, 1 p.m. on ABC

Game 2 on Wednesday, April 24 at TD Garden, 7 p.m. on TNT

Game 3 on Saturday, April 27 at Kaseya Center, 6 p.m. on TNT

Game 4 on Monday, April 29 at Kaseya Center, Time and TV TBD

Game 5 on Wednesday, May 1 at TD Garden, Time and TV TBD (if necessary)

Game 6 on Friday, May 3 at Kaseya Center, Time and TV TBD (if necessary)

Game 7 on Sunday, May 5 at TD Garden, Time and TV TBD (if necessary)

The Celtics swept the three-game regular-season series against the Heat, outscoring Miami by a total of 45 points during those matchups.