ORLANDO, FLA.Well, theres good news and bad news for the M.A.S.H. unit that doubles as the Bulls backcourt.Derrick Rose, coming off a scary fall in Detroit on Wednesday that led to a left elbow bruise, fully participated in Friday-mornings shootaround at the Amway Center and will play in the evenings contest against the Magic.Its fine. You know if it wasnt messed up, I still wouldnt tell you. Its good, said Rose, who wore a protective sleeve and underwent electronic stimulation, as well as old-fashioned ice treatment for the injury. Its coming along.Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau added, Hes good. Theyre going to get bumped, theyre going to be bruised. If a guy is hurting, we want him to play. If hes injured, we dont want them to play. Theres a difference between the two, he continued, with a slight smirk on his face.Now for the bad news: Rip Hamilton, the other half of Chicagos starting backcourt, is a game-time decision, due to a nagging groin injury. It was tough because when I went back to Detroit, there was no way that I was going to sit out that game and just adrenaline alone, it was like, Youre good. Theres no way I dont care who would tell me how hurt I was I was playing regardless and it pulled during the game, so I wrapped up during the game and Thursday it was bothering me, said the veteran shooting guard, who missed two consecutive games prior to his return to the Motor City, following the teams shootaround. The groin is crazy. Its one of those things that can be nagging. I thought I was good. I thought I was where I felt as though I was ready to come back, but nobody could keep me off that floor anyway. I dont give a damn. I was going to play.While Thibodeau maintained that Hamilton was a game-time decision, Rose perhaps accidentally revealed that his new teammate would sit out of the contest.Its going to hurt us, especially when you lose a player like that, but were ready for anything, said the leagues reigning MVP. We have other guys on the team that areready to step in and play, but well definitely miss him tonight.Backup point guard C.J. Watson, traveling with the team despite his sprained left elbow, suffered in the Bulls New Years Day home-opening blowout victory over Memphis, said that hes making progress, but still isnt ready to suit up.Said Thibodeau: Hes not ready, but hes coming along.
Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?
That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.
The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.
The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.
Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?
Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.
Watch as the Bulls take on the Mavericks tonight on CSN+ and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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Five Things to Watch:
1. What's Jimmy Butler got in store? On paper, Butler's performance Sunday night against the Grizzlies was nothing special. In fact, in many ways it fell short of his season averages. But Jimmy G. Buckets was on his game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him most, helping them to a crucial road victory in Memphis. Tonight a fast start will be key against a Mavericks team that struggles to play from behind.
2. Dirk Nowitzki is back. The Mavericks are finally getting back to full-strength, and the main contributor to that is Dirk Nowtizki. The future Hall-of-Famer is finally rounding into form after an Achilles injury kept him out of the lineup most of the year. In his last three games, Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting.
3. There was at least some rumblings that the Bulls might have considered going after Ames native Harrison Barnes this past offseason. Instead, Barnes wound up in Dallas a potential building block for the Mavs. And he's looked pretty solid through the season's first half. Barnes is averaging 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and nearly a steal per game in 36 minutes. It'll be a fun matchup watching him go against Jimmy Butler.
4. More 3-pointers on the way? It's easy to say that a 31-point outing will get you going, but maybe Doug McDermott can build on his career night against the Grizzlies. He hit 3 of 6 triples, made 10 of 11 free throws and even added six rebounds and a(nother) block. The Bulls will be able to run more against the Mavs than they were the Grizzlies, meaning more spacing for McDermott to find open shots. If he's hitting early, the Bulls are in good shape.
5. A three-game winning streak on the line. The last time the Bulls won three straight -- earlier this month -- it pushed them over .500. Now they've got a chance to reel off a third straight and again get back over .500. As poorly as the Bulls have played as a whole, the Eastern Conference is wide open at the bottom half of the playoff bracket, so these are opportunities they don't want to miss against a struggling team.
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