All Bull - Chicago Bulls
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.
Now that every NBA playoff series has gone at least two games, home teams have a 14-2 record.
The only two road teams to win so far are the Bulls in Brooklyn, and Golden State, which won Game 2 at Denver.
Since first-round series were stretched from 5 games to 7 in 2003, home teams have done better in the playoffs just once. That happened in 2004, when the hosts went 15-1 in the first two games of the opening round. Ironically, the only home team to lose was Detroit (to Milwaukee), which went on to win the NBA title.
There was no other year when home teams went 14-2 to start the playoffs, but they went 13-3 five times. The worst showing was 11-5 in 2003 and '09.
The Bulls held shootaround Monday morning at John Jay College, a few blocks west of Columbus Circle and Central Park.
Nothing was new with Derrick Rose's situation, but it does look like the Bulls will be able to stick with the same starting lineup in Game 2, since Joakim Noah is feeling relatively well. Noah played 13 minutes in Saturday's Game 1 loss in Brooklyn.
“I think we’re a team of great character," Noah said. "Every time we get adversity, we respond pretty well. Tonight’s probably the biggest test of the year ... exciting."
Asked if Noah might play longer tonight, coach Tom Thibodeau answered with a simple, "We'll see what Fred says," referring to trainer Fred Tedeschi.
Thibodeau talked about what the Bulls need to do better, stressing the obvious.
Maybe we all counted out Joakim Noah too soon. After speaking to reporters Friday at the Berto Center, he seemed unlikely to play in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against Brooklyn.
A day later, he felt better and told Tom Thibodeau he'd like to play, pending how he feels after pregame warmups.
“There will be some restrictions on him," Thibodeau said during his pregame news conference at the Barclays Center. "When he’s played the past couple games, he hasn’t had a problem playing nor after. It’s more the next day the soreness really comes into play, so that’s the big thing.
Checking the Brooklyn Nets on paper, the team pretty much does boil down to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. The depth isn’t great and the 3-point shooting is average.
That’s too easy for Tom Thibodeau, figuring out a way to defend three players, right?
Well, if there’s one player on the roster that should concern the Bulls, I’d say it’s Andray Blatche.
It’s easy to write him off as one of the many former Washington knuckleheads, but he had his moments. Just two years ago, Blatche averaged 16.8 points per game for the Wizards.
He’s given the Bulls problems in the past, mostly because at 6-11, 260 pounds, he’s a handful in the post, especially for Joakim Noah, who is more of an athletic defender and can get pushed
With just two playoffs seeds still to be decided in the East, Atlanta controlled its own destiny. And the Hawks seem perfectly content to concede the No. 5 spot to the Bulls.
The Hawks were drilled at home by Toronto 113-96 on Tuesday. The Bulls can clinch the No. 5 seed and a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets by beating Washington at the United Center on Wednesday.
The only way the Bulls won't get fifth is if they lose to the Wizards, while Atlanta wins at New York. The Bulls went 3-1 against Brooklyn this season. Game 1 will be either Saturday or Sunday.