Bulls planning Wall-to-Wall coverage vs. Wizards
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter April 18, 2014 10:05PM
Point guard Kirk Hinrich says the Bulls have to be good in transition against former teammate John Wall of the Wizards. | Getty Images
Game 1: 6 p.m. Sunday at United Center, CSN, TNT.
Game 2: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at United Center, CSN, TNT.
Game 3: 7 p.m. Friday at Washington, CSN, ESPN.
Game 4: Noon April 27 at Washington, Ch. 7.
Game 5*: TBD April 29 at United Center.
Game 6*: TBD May 1 at Washington.
Game 7*: TBD May 3 at United Center, CSN, TNT.
Best of seven; *-if necessary
Updated: May 20, 2014 6:14AM
Kirk Hinrich was John Wall’s teammate during the 2010-11 season.
In Hinrich years, that’s a long time ago, a lot of ice tubs and taped body parts ago.
“No, nothing like that,’’ Hinrich said Friday when asked if he helped mentor Wall, a rookie that season. “The relationship was good. I got along great with him. You could tell he had great athleticism, great talent but also a knack for playing the point-guard position.
“[Former NBA guard] Sam Cassell was there, too. He did a lot of the mentoring. If I taught him anything, it was probably just by example.’’
Now it’s not about teaching Wall. It’s about slowing the All-Star guard. That’s no easy assignment for Hinrich as he prepares for the first-round playoff series against the Wizards.
“It was evident early on when [Wall] first came into the league how good he could be,’’ Hinrich said. “He was really good as a rookie. I think he’s a smart player, and I think he’s just naturally maturing over the last couple of years. He was an All-Star this year. He’s had a great year, and he poses a challenge for any team that faces him.’’
The defensive-minded Bulls have been no exception.
Wall averaged 20.6 points and eight assists against the Bulls as the Wizards won two of three regular-season meetings. Wall had 20 points in the Wizards’ loss to the Bulls on April 5, but the Bulls turned him into a jump shooter instead of a penetrator.
The good news is they’re used to facing a player with Wall’s speed almost every day in practice: Derrick Rose. The bad news is knee injuries have sidelined Rose for all but 10 games the last two seasons.
“Everybody wanted to compare them — same [college] coach [John Calipari], one-and-done, No. 1 picks, and there are some [similarities],’’ Hinrich said of the Rose-Wall talk. “I think their ability is similar in how they use their speed and athleticism, the size at their position.’’
Hinrich only spent a relatively short time with Wall. The Wizards traded him to the Hawks during the season, so Hinrich has watched Wall grow from afar.
“Well, we have to be good as a team in transition,’’ Hinrich said when asked about dealing with Wall’s up-tempo style. “You have to get guys back, form a wall, low to the ball. It’s easier to talk about than do.’’
That’s what the Bulls concentrated on during practice Friday at the Berto Center — making sure all five players on the court were ready for Wall and the headaches he can create from a spacing standpoint.
“I feel like I’m back in grade school, getting asked so many questions by [coach Tom Thibodeau],’’ reserve big man Taj Gibson said. “He’s drilling you. You’ve got to know everything. It’s like a pop quiz every five minutes, but it’s a part of the game.’’
The Bulls also could use versatile swingman Jimmy Butler on Wall, especially when Hinrich rests.
“You’re not going to slow Wall one-on-one,’’ Thibodeau said. “His speed is terrific. Makes and misses, they push it hard. We have to be ready for that.’’
NOTES: The NBA announced that the ties for teams that finished the regular season with identical records were broken through a random drawing to help determine the draft order.
The Bulls edged the Raptors to earn the 19th pick rather than the 20th. The Bulls already own the Bobcats’ first-round pick, 16th overall.
◆ Center Joakim Noah (bereavement) missed practice Friday. He was expected back Saturday.