DEERFIELD, Ill. — After Wednesday afternoon’s practice at the Berto Center, Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich was cautiously optimistic about his status for Thursday night’s Game 6 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Nets at the United Center.
“I’m doing better. I’m seeing some improvement. Right now, it’s kind of the same deal. I’m taking it day to day and trying to throw everything at it to try to improve it as quickly as possible,” said Hinrich, who suffered a right-calf injury in the Bulls’ epic Game 4 triple-overtime win last Saturday. “I’m not ruling it [playing in Game 6] out. I hope I can. It’s going to be a game-time decision, I’m sure. I’d have to improve some definitely.
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“I ditched the walking boot. I’m getting some of the swelling out of there. I have to get as much of that swelling out as possible if I have any chance of moving,” he continued. “I’m still walking very gingerly. I haven’t tried to run or cut or jump or anything yet. I’m hoping it improves a lot between today and tomorrow.
“I’m going to try to play if I can. That’s my goal. Whether I’ll be able to reach it or not, I’m not sure.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was predictably vague about his opinion of Hinrich’s progress.
“It’s improved,” he said. “Day-to-day. A little bit better today.”
Although Thibodeau often touts the floor general’s impact on the team — as evidenced by their dismal regular-season record during his four officials injuries that caused him to miss action, according to the Bulls, though he had other maladies, as well — he refused to bite when asked how and why the squad struggles without Hinrich.
“Well, every player has different strengths and weaknesses, so you may lose some of what his strengths, but you gain different strengths and the same with the weaknesses,” the coach explained. “You want to play to your strengths and cover up your weaknesses and function well as a team, and we’re capable of doing that.”
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For Hinrich’s part, it’s extremely difficult for the competitor to not be on the floor with his teammates, which is why he’s working diligently to return as soon as possible.
“It’s just one of those things where I took a good shot and it’s preventing me from moving very well,” he said. “Just try to get some mobility back in my ankle as far as I have to be able to get up on my toes and support my weight. Really, it’s been a tiring, non-stop treatment of it.
“It’s brutal [to watch from the sidelines]. All year we’ve been looking forward to this time. This is the second time I’ve missed playoff action and it’s never any fun. You never want to end the year like that. Just try to do the best I can to get ready. Hopefully tomorrow but if not tomorrow, whenever we play next or whoever we play next,” he continued. “It happens. I have an injury. Just deal with it the best I can and try to stay locked into what we’re doing with the game plan. And concentrate on my treatment and getting better. If I feel like I can help the team, I’m definitely going to play.”