All Bull - Chicago Bulls
MIAMI -- One topic getting some play in Miami today is whether LeBron James might take a turn guarding Bulls sparkplug Nate Robinson.
If it happens, it would most likely be late in the game. James got plenty of credit for slowing down Derrick Rose during the 2011 conference finals, especially in Game 4 when Rose had chances to win the game in regulation, but couldn’t score against James one-on-one.
Rose is 6-2, Robinson is listed at 5-9. Guarding someone nearly a foot shorter would be a challenge for James. But I suppose the theory is he’d do as good a job as anyone else on the Heat roster.
“We’ll see,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not the let time we would have done it. ‘One Through Five,’ that’s his nickname for a reason.”
MIAMI – Nothing new at Bulls shootaround today. According to coach Tom Thibodeau, Luol Deng is feeling better, but is still back in Chicago, so he won’t play tonight.
Kirk Hinrich is officially a game-time decision, but he sounded pessimistic yesterday, so doubtful would be a good description of his status.
Asked about an Internet report Derrick Rose might start suiting up for games in case of emergency, Thibodeau smirked and said, “Nothing’s changed.”
In the meantime, here’s an optimistic thought for Bulls fans: Is it possible Miami lost its edge by coasting through the second half of the season?
Luol Deng will definitely not play in Monday's Game 1 against Miami. He was back in the hospital Sunday, still in Chicago, trying to recover from a bad reaction to a spinal tap administered Thursday. It's too soon to tell if he has a chance to play in Wednesday's Game 2.
Kirk Hinrich will test his injured calf and decide tonight whether or not he can play. He warmed up before Sunday's Game 7 in Brooklyn and decided he wasn't healthy enough to help the team.
Meanwhile, Derrick Rose spoke again at Monday's shootaround at American Airlines Arena, but his story hasn't changed. He won't play tonight, but won't rule out playing at some point in this series.
"Right now, I'm not ready so I'm just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart," Rose said, according to espn.com.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau just met with the media prior to Game 7 at the Barclays Center.
The message was pretty simple: Kirk Hinrich is out with his left calf bruise, Luol Deng was hoping to catch a flight today, but ended up spending most of the day in the hospital. Derrick Rose is not playing and Thibodeau feels good about his team, regardless.
This will be Hinrich's third game missed with the calf injury. He hasn't played since logging nearly 60 minutes in Game 4's three overtimes. Deng has been ailing since Wednesday and had a spinal tap Thursday to check for viral meningitis.
Anyone who saw Luol Deng on Thursday at the United Center would confirm he was in no condition to play. He is not expected to travel with the team to Brooklyn today, but he may try to fly on his own tomorrow for Game 7 against the Nets.
Deng sent a series of messages via Twitter on Friday afternoon, explaining and updating his health status:
"It really upsets me that everyone thinks I would miss a game (because) of the flu. I've played a lot of games with the flu in my career.
"On Wed I was taken to the ER and my symptoms indicated I may have meningitis. In order to play on Thurs I was required to undergo a spinal tap.
"As a result of the spinal tap I suffered the worst headache I've ever experienced and been the weakest I've ever felt.
Here’s the rundown on injuries and illnesses at the Bulls’ Thursday shootaround:
--Kirk Hinrich (left calf bruise) did not participate and is most likely out for tonight’s Game 6 against Brooklyn at the United Center. Coach Tom Thibodeau declined to speculate on whether the injury could keep Hinrich sidelined beyond tonight’s contest. “We’re just going day by day, hour by hour,” he said. “There’s still 6 or 7 hours before tonight’s game, so we’ll see where he is tonight.”
--Luol Deng and Taj Gibson are still sick. They missed practice Wednesday, checked in at the Berto Center today to listen to the game plan and are game-time decisions tonight. Brooklyn’s Reggie Evans was also out sick yesterday.
One memory that probably helps fuel the Bulls right now is how last year's playoff series ended:
With time ticking down and the Bulls up by 1 in Game 6 at Philadelphia, C.J. Watson passed the ball to notoriously bad free-throw shooter Omer Asik. Asik missed both shots, the Bulls didn't get back on defense, Andre Iguodala made 2 free throws to win the series.
The decision to pass the ball probably helps explain why Bulls fans have booed Watson, now a Brooklyn Net, in the current playoff series.
So it was interesting late Wednesday night when Oklahoma City, trailing against Houston in the fourth quarter, decided to play Hack-Asik. The Thunder fouled the former Bulls big man relentlessly.
Before Game 6 arrives, let’s take a closer look at this question: When Kirk Hinrich doesn’t play, does Carlos Boozer’s performance suffer?
As great as Nate Robinson has been this season, it has seemed obvious that the Bulls are best with Robinson coming off the bench and Hinrich starting. Robinson’s tendency to take a lot of shots is often pegged as the reason. Here are the numbers:
--Boozer played in 63 games with Hinrich (including playoffs), averaging 14.8 shots per game, 17.2 points and a .501 field-goal percentage.
--Boozer played in 21 games without Hinrich, averaging 13.3 shots per game, 13.7 points and a .425 field-goal percentage.
Kirk Hinrich wore a walking boot at this morning's Bulls shootaround in Manhattan, telling reporters he woke up this morning and couldn't put any weight on his injured left leg.
According to coach Tom Thibodeau, Hinrich suffered a bruised calf during Saturday's Game 4. It's unclear when Hinrich may be ready to play again.
With a 3-1 lead in this first-round playoff series, the Bulls could close out the Brooklyn Nets tonight at the Barclays Center (6 p.m., CSN).
Hinrich played just under 60 minutes in Saturday's 142-134 triple-overtime victory. He's done a nice job of shadowing Nets point guard Deron Williams in this series, though Williams scored 32 points in Game 4.
The Bulls went 7-15 this season in games Hinrich did not play.
Bulls were terrible at the start (17-5) and finish (14-2), but dominated the middle to win 79-76 and go up 2-1 in the series...
--The New York Post reported that Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson had a cortisone shot in his foot just before game time. He said otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to play due to plantar fasciitis.
--Tom Thibodeau gets heat for playing guys big minutes. Johnson played 41 minutes for the Nets on Thursday. He seemed to play his normal game -- 6-for-14, 15 points, 3 assists.