Hamilton back; Deng and Watson out for Heat


Jan 29

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

It was excitement in the American Airlines Arena Sunday, and not just because it was Stacey King’s birthday. ESPN Magazine had 50 staffers here for a feature on the day in the life of an NBA game.

The Miami marathon was being run outside, and there was no truth than the Kenyans were chasing Tom Thibodeau to the finish line. ABC-TV was here for the opening of Super Bowl week (you think they’re stupid and would spend it in Indianapolis?), and national reporters were on site moreso than even Christmas Day.

Yes, it was Bulls/Heat for the first time this season, the defending MVP against the past and presumably future MVP.

Doesn’t get bigger than that, right Tom?

“Last year was last year, this year is this year,” said Thibodeau. “This is the most important game to us because it’s the next game.”

I am sure his nose grew a bit when he said that.

”We’re not going to change how we approach things,” said Thibodeau. “They’re very good, deep, experienced. I think they made some great additions. They played very well shorthanded (though Dwyane Wade is now back). They’ve been together now for a year, so we’re going to have to play well. They’re a well balanced team. They play extremely well on both ends of the court. But we have to be ready for everybody.”

As for ready, Luol Deng and now C.J. Watson are not, with both out Sunday, Watson spraining his wrist in Friday’s win over the Bucks. Thibodeau indicated it is not serious and Watson could play in Washington Monday. Deng was working hard on the court before the game and Thibodeau would only say again Deng is getting close to playing. The issue appears to be he hasn’t practiced in any competitive session yet, though there are no practices scheduled this week with four games in five days.

“We want to make sure he feels good about playing,” said Thibodeau. “He still has to take contact. We want him to be comfortable. He’s getting closer. As long as he’s moving in the right direction we’re pleased with that.”

Thibodeau listed Deng day to day, though with Watson perhaps playing Monday I’m listing him half day to half day.

In addition, Richard Hamilton said his leg injury is better and he is playing against the Heat.

As for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, we never are quite sure what Miami people are talking about. It was Pat Riley, of course, who invented “ air space” for defending players. Spoelstra said the Bulls “offensive pie chart looks a lot different than it did last year” because of the addition of Hamilton.

Now, I do recall pie equals 3.14, but I didn’t know why. And who ever knows what they are talking about in Miami. It’s Game 1 of four in the regular season and it should only get better.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: