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The Heat are headed to Boston after ousting the Bulls 112-91 in the East play-in final

MIAMI (AP) — The chants started raining down in the fourth quarter. “We want Boston,” the Miami Heat crowd kept shouting over and over. The fans got their wish. And this year, a rematch of the last two Eastern Conference finals awaits in Round 1.

MIAMI (AP) — The chants started raining down in the fourth quarter. “We want Boston,” the Miami Heat crowd kept shouting over and over.

The fans got their wish. And this year, a rematch of the last two Eastern Conference finals awaits in Round 1.

Miami is back in the playoffs, even with Jimmy Butler sidelined for several weeks with a sprained knee. Tyler Herro scored 24 points and was one assist shy of a triple-double, rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 21 points and the Heat clinched the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the Chicago Bulls 112-91 in a play-in tournament elimination game Friday night.

“I appreciate the things you can’t buy, the things you have to earn,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We had to earn this. You have no influence on it. You can’t pay money for it. You actually have to come together collectively to earn it – and we had to do it the hard way, just to get this first ticket for the invitation to this dance.

Kevin Love scored 16 and Bam Adebayo added 13 for Miami, who will now be big underdogs against a Celtics team that is the heavy favorite to win the NBA title. The Heat are No. 8 again, just like last year, when they survived the play-in and advanced all the way to the NBA Finals.

“At the end of the day, we just have to convey that Miami Heat culture and that toughness,” Jaquez said. “We have two games in Boston. We have to set the tone very early, impose our will on them and make it really physical.”

They took control of the Bulls with a 19-0 run in the first quarter, and a 14-0 run midway through the second half ended all doubt. Herro finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists, and the Heat eliminated the Bulls in the final East play-in game for the second straight year.

DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points for the Bulls, who got 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists from Nikola Vucevic. Coby White scored 13 for Chicago, which was trying to become the fifth team in the last 35 years to make the playoffs after not spending a single day above .500 all season.

“It was tough,” DeRozan said. “We missed a lot of easy shots.”

Chicago shot just 38%, while the Heat Defense got the win.

“These games are going to be like that,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. ‘It’s going to be ugly, exhausting. Could we have done better in those areas? Probably. I wouldn’t say we were perfect. I thought our guys were trying to compete.”

The 19-0 run – which matched Miami’s longest streak of consecutive points all season, done twice more – put the Heat on top and turned an 11-6 deficit into an early 25-11 lead. Jaquez and Nikola Jovic combined to score 11 points in the burst, giving Miami a 17-point lead after one quarter and increasing it to 20 points in the second quarter.

It was a rare decent foul on a gritty, gutsy, win-or-go-home night.

The Heat scored just 13 points in the second and still went into halftime with a 47-37 lead, as the Bulls came off the field even colder. Chicago started 4 for 5 and then went 8 for 39 the rest of the half. The Heat started 8 for 9 and then ended the half with 9 for 35.

Here’s how bad it was: Chicago missed 14 of 15 shots in one stretch, while Miami had runs of 0 for 8 and 0 for 6. But the Heat had the two big runs — and are now back as the No. 8 seed, the one which took them all the way to the NBA Finals last season.

It will be much tougher this time against a Boston team that has won an NBA-best 64 games this season and is likely still smarting from losing a Game 7 of last year’s East finals to the Heat at home.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to play in the playoffs,” Spoelstra said. “I’m grateful that this locker room has this opportunity. And I think they appreciate it too.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press