NEW YORK—Due to a right-calf injury suffered in the first half of Saturday afternoon’s Game 4 triple-overtime win over the Nets at the United Center, Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich will miss Monday night’s Game 5 in Brooklyn.
“It’s just one of those things. I’m going to do everything the medical staff tells me to do and see how it progresses. Hopefully, I won’t be out long. I’m going to get a lot of treatment, do everything they tell me to do and hopefully it will be sooner than later,” said Hinrich, wearing a walking boot on his ailing leg, before the Bulls morning shootaround Monday in Manhattan. “It happened in the first half. At halftime, after sitting for a little bit, it was bothering me more than it was in the first half. It was definitely bothering me the whole second half. But the fact I didn’t stop and was able to keep moving helped. It just went downhill after the game and overnight.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t put any weight on it,” he continued. “It’s difficult. Nobody wants to miss playoff games. There’s no question. This is what you look to all year. There’s nothing really I can do at this point. Just continue to try to improve it every day and see how it goes.”
[GAME 4: Hinrich hurt, Noah feeling better]
Hinrich played 60 minutes in the contest, finishing with 18 points and a franchise playoff record-tying 14 assists, but the floor general claimed that his heavy workload didn’t further aggravate the injury.
“That’s the consensus from the trainers and doctors. From the way it reacted after the game, if I would’ve sat out, it would’ve been very difficult to return,” he explained. “It bothered me pretty good in the second half. The fact I was still moving helped. As soon as I stopped moving, it really went downhill.
It’s everything. It’s preventing me from walking right now. I’m just going to stay after it with the medical staff, treatments around the clock and hopefully it will improve,” Hinrich went on to say. “In an ideal situation, it’d be better tomorrow. Right now, it’s just no bueno.”
Although Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau dodged questions about the severity of Hinrich’s injury and who would start in his place — it’s likely that Game 4 hero Nate Robinson takes his place, as he did throughout the regular season — he acknowledged the veteran’s value.
“It’s what he’s done all year. The way he runs the team, he’s a two-way player, plays great defense, knows how to run the team, great leader,” the coach said. “He’s had a terrific season for us, but we also feel like we have more than enough to win here.’’
Hinrich’s teammates were more expansive about the loss of the quiet leader.
“Oh, it’ll be difficult for us. He’s been playing phenomenal all season. Obviously, this series, he’s took his game to another level,” Carlos Boozer said. “He’s been great for us, but if he can’t go, we’ll have to figure out another way to win.”
“Yeah, it’s going to be tough. As well as he’s been playing all season, especially this series, I feel like it’s a lot of slack to pick up," Jimmy Butler added. "But I feel like we’re going to have to do it. He’ll be coaching us up from the sidelines. He’ll still be there with us in spirit.”
Joakim Noah expressed surprise about the situation.
“He’s not playing tonight? It’s tough,” said the All-Star center. “We’ve got to find a way.”
Meanwhile, Robinson said he was prepared to fill Hinrich’s role, in his own unique way.
“It sucks for us. But at the same time, guys who are filling in have to be ready. We need Marco [Belinelli] to play big, Marquis [Teague] to play big, guys who are subbing in for guys who go down have to be ready, including myself,” he said. “I’m just ready for a win. Regardless of how I play, I just want to play hard and bring energy and have fun.”
Boozer chimed in: “Oh, yeah. Nate will be ready. He always is. We’re going to miss Kirk for tonight. Kirk’s been playing great, but we still feel like we’re capable of winning this game and we look forward to it.”