Deng improving but out as Bulls prepare for Game 2


May 8

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reported Luol Deng will not rejoin the team until they are back in Chicago, meaning the All-Star small forward will miss Wednesday’s Game 2 in Miami.

However, Thibodeau wouldn’t rule Deng out for Game 3 on Friday at the United Center.

“Day-to-day,” said Thibodeau of Deng as the Bulls took the court at AmericanAirlines Arena for shootaround on Wednesday morning. “So he’s improving. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

Carlos Boozer

For the playoffs, Carlos Boozer ranks third in double-doubles (four) and seventh in rebounds (10.1 rpg).

Kirk Hinrich, meanwhile, continues to work towards returning from a left calf injury. The Bulls met for a film session on Tuesday after which Hinrich received treatment and continued his rehab.

Thibodeau did not divulge many specifics on the outlook for the possibility of Hinrich playing in Game 2.

“He was a little better yesterday; we’ll see where he is today,” said Thibodeau. “We’ll see. The swelling’s down, which is good. He tried (to play) the last game in the Brooklyn series and he wasn’t quite there, so we just have to wait and see. Hopefully, he continues to improve.”

Though the Bulls are coming off a stunning Game 1 victory over the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Heat, Thibodeau sees plenty of room for improvement, specifically on the defensive end of the floor.

“We’ve got to do things a lot better. Every aspect,” said Thibodeau. “You can’t lock into one aspect or one player with them because they test you in a lot of different ways. So there’s defensive transition, there’s off the dribble, there’s low post, there’s catch and shoot. It’s the ball, the paint, react out, cover the line, finish your defense, challenge shots, rebounding… there are a lot of things we’re capable of doing better and that we’re going to have to do better.

“I thought they missed some shots early that they normally make,” Thibodeau continued of the Heat. “So we have to be ready right from the start and you have to play 48 minutes against them. We have to be aggressive at both ends of the floor. I thought offensively in the second half we were pretty good, but we have to do that from the start of the game.”

While it’s safe to assume the Heat is planning to take a more aggressive approach in Game 2, you can probably expect the same from Carlos Boozer. Boozer, averaging 16.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in the playoffs, was limited to six points on 3-of-11 shooting in the opening game. But that won’t stop the Bulls from looking to him more often as the series continues.

“I thought he had some good shots that he normally makes,” Thibodeau said of Boozer. “I just want him to stay aggressive, play to his strengths, cover up weaknesses and just attack. I don’t want him overthinking it. We’ve got to search him out and get him some looks, get the ball into him.”

Chicago’s Game 1 win by all means changed the scope of the series. But Joakim Noah said it doesn’t make the task of getting another win on Wednesday any easier.

“There’s nothing easy about the NBA Playoffs, especially when you’re playing against the defending champs,” said Noah. “They were a little bit rusty in their first game and we know they missed a lot of shots that they normally don’t miss. For us to compete, we’re going to have to play a lot better.”

Audio—Tom Thibodeau talks with reporters at Bulls shootaround (05.08.2013):

What do you think? Leave a comment below: