Rose out, Deng in against Heat


Rose out, Deng in against Heat

MIAMIFor all of his talk about every game being just as important as another, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau sure is particular about all things Heat-related, at least when he feels he has to set the record straight. When given a ballpark number of times his team has faced Miami since his tenure in Chicago began, Thibodeau interjected, Eleven, just for the record, of course.

Well, for his squads 12th clash with its chief rival, Thibodeau will have half of his All-Star duo back in the lineup. After missing two consecutive games due to a rib injury suffered in Sundays overtime win at Detroit, Luol Deng will suit up against the Heat, though reigning league MVP Derrick Rose will miss his third straight game with a sore right foot, his 26th absence of the season.

Lus a go, Thibodeau stated tersely, prior to Thursday evenings showdown at American Airlines Arena. Derricks out.

Rose is feeling a lot better today, but hes still not quite there. Just going to be patient and when hes ready to go, hell go, he continued. I spoke with Deng this morning, he was cleared and said he was feeling a lot better, so thats a good thing.

Thibodeau acknowledged that the Bulls keeping their turnovers down against the high-octane Heatwho will be without their own All-Star, Chris Bosh, whom Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said will miss the contest due to minor bumps and bruisesThursday, as well as the other four core principles he stresses: Unselfish play, inside-out offense, rebounding and strong defense.

Its critical on the road, Thibodeau explained. Youre on the road and theyre a great home team. Theyre a great team period and those are things you have to do on the road to win, so hopefully we can get that done.

Its a great game for us. Theyre a great team, so we can measure ourselves to see exactly where we are and then we want to continue on with what we started a long time ago, which is to improve each and every day, continued the coach. Theyre all very close. Theyre very similar. Theyre all hard-fought, usually comes down to the end. One or two plays is the difference, so you have to be able to persevere, fight through things. There will be times when things are going your way, times where theyre not. You have to stay the course and keep battling. Find a way to win.

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

The Bulls kick off their 2016-17 season Thursday night against the Celtics.

We'll have end-to-end coverage all season long. Make sure you're following these accounts for all the information you'll need: @vgoodwill, @MarkSchanowski, @markstrot, @ChuckGarfien, @CSNBulls

Here are five things to watch for tonight. And don't forget to tune in to CSN on Saturday night as the Bulls host Paul George and Indiana Pacers.

1. The Three Alphas debut

Each of the Bulls' starting guards had their moments during the preseason, but it's admittedly tough to get a read on how well they'll perform when the games mean something. While it won't be entirely fair to judge them on one game - especially against a stellar defensive team in Boston - how the three players interchange with each other will say plenty. Watch for the way they share the basketball, who initiates the offense and, when one gets hot, if the other two don't mind taking a backseat for a handful of possessions.

2. Who takes the reins at power forward?

Fred Hoiberg said that Taj Gibson will get the start against the Celtics, and it's well deserved after his impressive preseason. Gibson is as rock solid and consistent on both ends as they come, but the reality is if the Bulls are going to be successful this year one of Nikola Mirotic or Bobby Portis will need to make a jump forward. The Celtics deploy postman Amir Johnson and stretch forward Jonas Jerebko at the 4, so Brad Stevens will give the Bulls multiple looks that they'll need to counter with the combination of Gibson/Mirotic/Portis.

3. Running of the Bulls

The Bulls are naturally going to push pace with a great initiator in Rondo and two excellent finishers in Butler and Wade. The Celtics played at home against the Nets last night, and four days into the season they're already playing their first back-to-back. It will be interesting to see if Hoiberg and the Bulls put an emphasis on pushing pace against a Celtics team that played 24 hours earlier.

4. How much will Denzel Valentine play?

The Bulls' rookie really only has one real practice under his belt, but he says he feels good enough that he'll suit up Thursday night. In most situations he wouldn't expect to see much playing time, if any. But the Celtics go 10 deep - 10 players played at least 15 minutes and scored eight points - and that may cause Hoiberg to go deeper into his bench than usual.

5. Fred Hoiberg's debut: Pt. II

Fred Hoiberg began his coaching career with a victory over the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The rest of the season didn't go as planned, but with a fresh roster and a year of experience under his belt he'll get another chance to show what he can do. He'll have to balance the Three Alphas, figure out the power forward spot and determine how his second unit works best together. And as far as tonight goes, he'll need to do it against one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. There's plenty of time to evaluate Hoiberg, but a victory in Game 1 would be another good start for him and the Bulls.

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

According to CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill, the Bulls are exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

The Bulls currently have one open roster spot.

Hunter, a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2015, appeared in 38 games as a rookie. He struggled from the field, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from deep. He ultimately lost out on a roster spot this preseason in a crowded Celtics backcourt.

Hunter was the darling of the 2015 NCAA Tournament playing for his father at Georgia State. Hunter hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Baylor to propel the 14th-seeded Panthers to an opening-round win.

Hunter was a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year, averaging 19.7 points per game as a junior.

The Bulls open their 2016-17 season tomorrow night against the Celtics.

Stay with for more updates on this story.