Rose a game-time decision vs. Celtics

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Rose a game-time decision vs. Celtics

Though he was a partial participant in Thursday mornings Bulls shootaround, its unlikely that Derrick Rose, still suffering from lower back spasms, plays in the evenings game against Boston. Rose shot free throws and watched his teammates prepare for the visiting Celtics, who beat the Bulls, without Rose, Sunday.

Im getting better every day, taking it day by day. Just trying to stay positive, like I always say, said Rose. His back specialist said that its just getting better. Its the same thing. Hopefully get this behind me, so I wont have to talk about it anymore.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said the organization would continue with its cautious approach to Roses recovery.

Well, hes got to be cleared by the medical staff first and then hes got to be comfortable that he feels good enough to go, he said. Its a compilation of things. Each day hes gotten better, so we just want to be patient.

Rose admitted that hes growing weary of answering questions about the injury, repeating the word tired three times in one response. The reigning league MVP, who acknowledged that he didnt do any running during shootaround, also stated some criteria for his eventual return to the court, as far as his pain threshold.

I dont know yet, game-time decision, he said about his status for Thursdays game. Rose will receive treatment again right now, treatment again when I get to the gym tonight and go out there, and warm up.

Rose will return when he doesnt feel any pain. I know that its going to be sore a little bit, but I know that I dont want to deal with it during the game, where it gets tight and it gets irritating. I think Im going to come back when Im ready, Rose went on to explain. The back is totally different. An ankle, you can kind of play through that. as a guard, youre used to twisting your ankle, but with your back -- this is my second time dealing with this -- its quite different.

Its killing me right now. Definitely missing these games, especially big games, going against Boston and all the other teams I didnt get a chance to play against this year. Its definitely hurting, but just trying to stay focused, keep my head right and try to get better.

Rose also humorously revealed the details of his visit to the chiropractor.

I cant explain all the things that hes doing, but I know that its a lot of stretching. I know that its a weird table I lay on and I know I stay there for about an hour, he said. When I was at Simeon, I think before we went downstate, we had a week off, so I didnt do anything for about a week. I didnt go to a doctor or anything and I came back healthy.

While Rose said its too far away to decide whether or not hell play in the Feb. 26 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, for which he was voted an Eastern Conference starter and would join teammate Luol Deng and the Bulls coaching staff, he put a positive spin on his situation.

I take it as a blessing, where I guess God wanted me to get some rest, he said. Thats how Im looking at it.

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Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.

And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.

Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.

Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.

In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.

This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).

"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."

No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."

Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.

Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.

"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."

Better late than never or too late?

That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.

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With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.

In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.

"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."