ATLANTA—Jimmy Butler will miss Tuesday night’s game against the Hawks at Philips Arena due to a rib injury, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The coach called the status of Butler, the Bulls’ starting swingman, “day-to-day,” in the wake of suffering the injury in last Friday’s home win over the Nuggets and missing Sunday afternoon’s loss in Miami. Butler didn’t participate in the Bulls’ morning shootaround Tuesday, but attempted to warm up before the evening’s game in Atlanta.
“He warmed up tonight and he said he was feeling better. He’s not quite there, so each day, it’s going to be where he is.,” Thibodeau explained. “It’s a sensitive area, so you have to wait until he’s comfortable enough to be out there. So he’s close.”
Thibodeau bristled when asked about the Bulls’ 4-10 record with Butler out of the lineup this season.
“Well, I think you’ve got to look at it deeper than that,” he explained. “The beginning of the season when he was out, you’re looking at Lu being out and Derrick being out along with him. We have more than enough to win with, so to look at it that is incorrect.”
The coach isn’t taking the injury-riddled Hawks—in addition to star big man Al Horford, who was lost for the campaign early this season with a torn pectoral muscle, Atlanta is currently without All-Star forward Paul Millsap—lightly, despite the squad dropping from third place in the East for much of the first half of the season to the eighth spot at the moment.
“You just look at their last game. They made 16 threes. So anytime a team has the ability to shoot the ball like that—Millsap’s out so they’re down players—but they’ve got great shooting. So you can overcome things when you’ve got the ability to make threes the way they do. They share the ball well,” he explained. “[Jeff] Teague is playing at a very high level for them. [Kyle] Korver’s had a great year. [Forwards Mike] Scott, [DeMarre] Carroll. They picked up [Dexter] Pittman [on a 10-day contract]. [Elton] Brand has been a very good player in this league for a long time, so he still has the capability of having a big night. So we know how good they are. I think the injuries, everyone has to deal with it. But the way they can shoot the ball, we know they can play well.”
“They’ve been hit hard. I think Mike’s [Budenholzer, Atlanta’s first-year head coach] done a good job of keeping them together. Because he’s been out for so long, you tend to forget about Horford and that’s a big hit. And of course, Millsap now, that’s more. But they’ve played together all year, I think, because of the fact of the way they can shoot the three. I think Brand has done a good job filling in, Korver has been terrific, Teague is playing at a high level, Lou Williams has been very, very good. So they’re deep and they can shoot the ball, so you’re always concerned about that,” Thibodeau continued. “That’s been their strength all season. You have guys who are shooting a career-best from the three, so you can tell that it’s a big part of who they are and what they do. I think they share the ball very, very well. They make quick decisions. That’s what makes them hard to guard.”