MIAMI—As expected, veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich will miss Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the Bulls’ Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Heat, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed.
Hinrich, who has a left-calf injury, is “day-to-day,” Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau also updated the status of Luol Deng, who is still in Chicago after suffering from complications of a spinal-tap procedure last week, though the coach refused to say whether he believed the All-Star small forward will play in the series.
“I don’t want to speculate on that. He did a little bit yesterday and he is still not feeling great. He did a little more today. We will see where he is tomorrow,” Thibodeau said. “He did a little bit of shooting yesterday. Today it was just more walking around.”
Butler has Heat’s respect
Jimmy Butler’s eye-opening, 21-point, game-high 14-rebound, 48-minute Game 1 performance came as no surprise to Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“Well, the opportunities now that he’s getting, playing 48 [minutes] every single game, shows you the level of athlete and conditioning that he has. But he’s defensive-minded,” he said. “Coming into the league, you don’t see a lot of players like that and he’s improved offensively and he’s a threat from behind the line. Our guys have respect for him and what he can bring to the table.”
While Butler is regarded highly for his defensive prowess, the second-year swingman told CSNChicago.com that he’s noticed increased attention to his offensive game as of late.
“Yeah, I can feel that. I can see a lot of people going under on screens, things like that. Boxing me out on the offensive glass. There’s always room to correct that, so now it’s all about stopping behind the screen and making shots,” he explained. “I have teammates telling me, ‘Hey, you have to shoot that.’ Not, ‘You can make that.’ Not, ‘Pass it here.’ It’s, ‘You have to shoot that because you’ve got to make them guard you,’ so that’s what it is.”
At the Bulls’ morning shootaround, Butler also discussed the challenge of defending league MVP LeBron James.
“Fun, I guess. Fun and challenging. This is what you want, going up against the best, prove that you can hang, that you can compete. It’s challenging because it’s LeBron. The MVP, one of the greatest players of all-time. You can’t knock him for that. But with the team that I have, they’re giving me the utmost confidence and they support me. They think that I can do it, so if they think I can do it, then I think I can do it, so why not do it?” he said. “I feel like it’s tough because he can do everything out there on the floor. Facilitate, half the time—three-fourths of the time—he’s bringing the ball up the floor, so you’ve got to guard him off the dribble. He’s not just back to the basket. He’s driving, he’s shooting. You’ve got to play him for everything and it’s tough, but with the four guys that I have behind me, it makes it a little bit easier.”
Miami reunion for Bulls’ Cook
Reserve swingman Daequan Cook began his NBA career as a member of the Heat in 2007 before getting traded to Oklahoma City last season.
Since then, he was traded to Houston at the beginning of this season in the blockbuster James Harden deal, then waived by the Rockets and acquired by the Bulls in early January.
Cook still has a fondness for Miami, but after facing the Heat in the Finals last season with the Thunder, playing his former team in the playoffs isn’t a new experience.
“It’s just something different,” he told CSNChicago.com. “It’s always a good feeling, regardless of who it is and who I’m playing against, it’s always good to get a good win on their home court, so it feels good right now.”
Cook hasn’t stayed in touch with many members of Miami’s current squad—with the exception of point guard Mario Chalmers and former high school teammate Norris Cole—but he had some insight about how the Bulls could be successful in the series.
“Just basically stomp them when they’re down. That’s the most important thing,” he explained. “A team like this, with so many All-Stars, superstars on the team, you don’t want to give them a lot of hope. The most important thing is to take advantage of the little things that can help us win this game and the other night, we did that. The thing about it is, we defended, which is the most important thing and we executed on the offensive end when we needed to, to get the win, so it feels good to know how to win here and know what it takes to win here.”