Nothings a guarantee until it happens, but out of the five Bulls currently injured at least the ones who have disclosed their statuses; dont push the panic button, but in this hectic NBA season more than any other, the majority of every teams roster features several wounded warriors it appears three of them will be in action Monday night.
Derricks gametime, Johns gametime, Taj is out and Luol, most likely out. Joakim, I think, will go. Hell be gametime, though, too. Hes got to warm up, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the teams morning shootaround at the Berto Center.
To review: All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will likely return after missing four consecutive games because of turf toe in his left foot, starting center Joakim Noah should be in the lineup after sitting out Saturday due to a sprained left ankle suffered in Fridays victory at Cleveland and reserve John Lucas III will probably be available after missing the win against the Bobcats because of a strained left groin, also suffered against the Cavaliers. However, small forward Luol Deng, as he told CSNChicago.com late Sunday night via text message, is unlikely to play because of a sprained left wrist suffered in Saturdays win over Charlotte and backup power forward Taj Gibson, the only player whos status Thibodeau could confirm in certainty, wont play Monday, when the Bulls play host to New Jersey.
If that sounds overwhelming, dont tell that to Thibodeau
Actually, its not that difficult because of the depth of the team. our second unit plays a lot, so if theres an injury, the next guy steps up. Well go from there. We have 14 guys on the roster that can all play, he said. I expect them to play well. Theres a reason why theyre here. We feel that theyre all talented, very talented. We all feel that they have the right attitude and approach, so we know that when the opportunity comes, theyre going to be ready to play. So, when they do get that opportunity, I expect them to play well. I see what they do every day in practice.
Well, it doesnt change anything defensively. Then, you base it upon whos available and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You play to their strengths, but the core of the team is basically the same all the time, Thibodeau, who was asked a softball question about the team having four home games in a row with a day off in between, unlike the Bulls road-heavy schedule thus far this season before the squad embarks on a nine-game road trip, but didnt take the bait. It is the way it is. Thats what were faced with. I like every week.
Rose was more optimistic about the homestand saying, It feels good, just to be back home for a couple of days, sleeping in my bed for a couple of days, instead of just sleeping there one night and leaving the next night, so were happy to be here and hopefully well get some wins while were here.
The 23-year-old reigning league MVP looked healthy, especially compared to the gimpy version last seen on a court trying, unsuccessfully, to play in Memphis a week ago, as he got extra shots up at the conclusion of shootaround.
Its a little sore, but tonight, its a game-time decision. I practiced today. It felt decent, so hopefully Ill be playing tonight, he said. I ran on it today. I practiced. I did a whole walk-through. It really didnt bother me like that. They put things on my feet to make my feet more comfortable, so I really shouldnt have a problem.
Added Thibodeau: He did everything today. Each day, hes been feeling a lot better. All the swelling is out. Of course, hes got to warm up tonight to see if hes good, but hes coming along well.
Still, Rose couched his previous statement, also knowing that pregame warm-ups will determine whether he plays against the Nets.
I dont know yet. Thats why I said decent. Im not 100-percent sure if Im going to play or not. Ive got to see how it goes tonight, get treatment after this. Ive been getting treatment every day and lifting every day, Rose said. Its been very boring.
I definitely hate being injured, but I definitely have to take my time, he continued. Very frustrating. Hard, just sitting out. I know were winning. I cant complain about anything, but its kind of boring not playing, so hopefully Ill be playing tonight.
Rose acknowledged that his toe injury will likely linger throughout the remainder of the season, but is committed to gutting it out, though he knows his teammates are capable of picking up his slack if hes out of the lineup.
I know that its never going to be right this year, but its just something Ive just got to play through, he said. Its my decision. If I choose to go out there and play, its up to me.
Its been hard, man, especially knowing that I want to be out there playing. Were winning thats a good thing but just missing the action, its kind of tough, Rose continued. Its a blessing, man. It shows that we really put in the work. When guys are out, other guys are coming in, playing just as well as the people thats starting, so it shows a lot about the coaching staff, that theyre doing their job, and the players are coming in and doing theirs.
Thibodeau, who said Deng was at the doctor and didnt participate in shootaround, was undecided about which player would potentially replace the small forward in the starting lineup if he cant play Monday.
Undecided on that. Game-time decision, he said. Hes a complete player, brings a lot to the team. The versatility of our roster, we feel good. We feel like we have more than enough to win with. Were, of course, disappointed that hes injured, for him, because he puts so much work into it, but yet, we still know that the guys that are filling in are more than capable.
Chimed in Rose, who has lobbied for Deng to make his debut All-Star Game appearance this season: It will change a lot, especially how Lus been playing this year. Hes been great for us. Rebounding the ball, scoring the ball, just being consistent for us this year. It will definitely hurt us, but weve still got to go out there and play these games.
I think you see everything that he does. You can tell that he works on his game. I remember, just coming into the league, Lu wasnt a three-point shooter. Now, hes knocking down threes. Hes always been a rebounder and a scorer off one dribble, he added. He has a lot of things to his game. The post game, you can definitely tell that hes been working on that, so theres a lot of things that hes been doing to his game, to help his game for our team.
As for fellow starter Noah, Rose said, He looked good. He did the whole walk-through, so I know hes going to give us his all tonight.
Lucas told CSNChicago.com that whether he plays or not will be a game-time decision.
With all of the injury updates, its easy to forget that theres actual basketball to be played tonight, with the lowly Nets in town. However, Rose, who will be matched up with fellow All-Star point guard Deron Williams, isnt taking anything for granted.
Theyre a team, where if you give them confidence, they can definitely win the game, so were just going to have to go out there, play hard, just try to take their confidence very early and try to get a win, said Rose, who supplanted Williams as the top point guard, in the opinion of league general managers in an annual survey. Against every point guard now in this league, youve got to go out there and be prepared to play, and I know its going to be fun. Its definitely going to be fun.