The Bulls' stretch of injuries will continue tonight when they look to rebound at home in Game 3 against the Miami Heat. Point guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Luol Deng have both been ruled out, coach Tom Thibodeau said at this morning’s shootaround. Derrick Rose, who was softly rumored to be considering suiting up for tonight’s contest, was also ruled out.
Deng, who has missed the last four games after a setback stemming from a spinal tap after Game 5 of the Brooklyn Nets series, had hoped he would be able to suit up tonight, but he is still suffering from frequent headaches and has lost 15 pounds in that time.
Thibodeau expressed some optimism with Hinrich, saying the starter remains “in a holding pattern” with his left calf bruise. A second MRI revealed nothing new, but Hinrich will not test it before Game 3, meaning Nate Robinson will get another start.
“He did a little bit more on the bike but he’s still a little bit better today but he has a ways to go,” Thibodeau said. “It’s improved some, but he’s gotta keep working at it.”
The ongoing speculation of whether or not Rose will return at some point this series won’t end tonight. As well as practicing free throws with teammates, Rose was seen shooting on his own after the shootaround, driving to the basket, pulling up for jump shots and shooting 3-pointers.
So once again the Bulls will play shorthanded against the defending champions, with Jimmy Butler drawing another start and defensive assignment on two-time reigning MVP LeBron James, and Robinson being asked to score for a Chicago team playing without its leading scorer in Deng.
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And as it’s been the latter half of the Nets series and the first two games against the Heat, Thibodeau said staying prepared for all situations and adapting quickly to change will make a difference in the outcome, regardless of who is or isn’t on the court.
“It’s everybody. You win together, you lose together,” Thibodeau said. “So from top to bottom, when things don’t work out the way you’d like you have to study, make the necessary corrections and move forward. That’s why over the course of the season we’re trying to build the proper habits, because you know in the end these are the things that you have to be able to do in a game-to-game basis.
“We have to stay locked in, remain focused, can’t get side-tracked and we’re short-handed. We know what we need to do. If we do those things we’ll have a chance.”