Thibodeau weighs in on starting lineup for Miami game

Thibodeau weighs in on starting lineup for Miami game
April 14, 2013, 11:45 am
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MIAMI-Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is either playing the matchup game or trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

For Sunday's matinee affair against the defending-champion Heat, the Bulls will utilize the same small-ball starting lineup they used in Thursday's overtime home win over the Knicks: Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer and All-Star Luol Deng.

Of course, ever-secretive coach's last-minute change just before the tip of the afternoon game could also have to do with his perpetually-undermanned team's current status.

Erstwhile starters Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will be out due to injury, while Rip Hamilton is serving a one-game suspension for elbowing the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan during Friday night's loss in Toronto.

"It was a tough call because I thought there was a lot of grabbing and holding on the play, from the start of that play. The league makes those decisions and there's not much you can do about it, but I t thought it was a tough call, went against him. That's all you can say," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before Sunday's game at the American Airlines Arena. "I was surprised. But that's what happens."

After Friday's game, DeRozan said of the elbow, "He got me with a good one."

Hamilton received a flagrant-two foul on the play and was ejected.

As far as Gibson and Noah, the big men are making progress and Thibodeau didn't rule out the possibility that they could log some regular-season action.

"We'll see how they're feeling," Thibodeau said. "If they're ready."

Gibson, who is recovering from a re-aggravation of a left-knee sprain, provided an update on his status.

"I had a great workout yesterday. I feel a lot stronger. I just have to keep going," said Gibson, who noted that he could play in Monday's game at Orlando. "I don't want to just wait until the playoffs. I want to get some reps, get some contact. It's different when there's nobody out there guarding you, but I'm really looking forward to getting some contact and just going up and down."

Gibson is wearing a cumbersome knee brace as a precautionary measure.

"It's terrible, terrible. But I've got to adjust to it and to help me get used to it, I've been wearing it around all day, but it still sucks," he said. "It doesn't let you really fully bend your leg. It kind of leaves an arc in your leg, but I've just got to adjust. A lot of players are playing with it, but I've just got to adjust to it.

"I've got to wear it because a couple times it may feel different, but it's helping my knee a lot," Gibson continued. "I was wearing a sleeve brace for protection [when he reinjured his knee], but this brace has metal and different stuff to hold it in place, so it's frustrating."