Injured left calf makes Bulls’ Kirk Hinrich iffy for Thursday
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 1, 2013 11:01PM
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich drives to the basket in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls 79-76 win over the Brooklyn Nets in game three of the first round playoff series April 25, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: June 3, 2013 3:43PM
It’s hard to talk tough with a limp.
After practice Wednesday, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich dragged his bruised left calf to the makeshift podium at the Berto Center. A game-time decision for Game 6 Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center, Hinrich isn’t the type to get caught up in a war of words with the opposition.
After Brooklyn’s victory in Game 5, Nets forward Gerald Wallace said, “We’re the better team.’’
On Wednesday morning, teammate Andray Blatche told the media at practice, “There’s no doubt in our mind we are the better team. We’re just in a hole.’’
Hinrich’s reaction was typical Hinrich.
“Well, that’s how they feel,’’ Hinrich said. “We feel like if we come to play, we’ll have a very good chance of winning.’’
Not exactly pouring gas on the fire, but, then again, the Bulls aren’t exactly in the best position heading into Game 6.
Hinrich was iffy at best, and forwards Luol Deng and Taj Gibson missed practice with flulike symptoms. And, of course, center Joakim Noah still is dealing with the plantar fasciitis in his right foot and just gutting his way through it.
After the Nets’ meltdown in Game 4, Gibson said the Bulls were just a tougher team.
“We have guys that can step up on any given night and play 48 [minutes], play whatever is needed,’’ Gibson said. “That’s the difference. We have guys that are ready to step into that moment, and it shows.’’
Well, that’s about to be tested.
Hinrich spent Tuesday and Wednesday going through all sorts of treatments, well aware that the Nets are 1-5 against the Bulls in games he has played in.
“We just didn’t do what we needed to do down the stretch,’’ Hinrich said of the Game 5 loss. “We have to get back to what we do and play much better here at home. We’re happy to be home. We have to be right for one game.’’
They do that, and they’ll have an appointment with the top-seeded Miami Heat. If they don’t, this series goes back to Brooklyn with the Nets having regained the momentum.
“I’m going to try to play if I can,’’ Hinrich said. “That’s my goal. Whether I’ll be able to reach it or not, I’m not sure.’’
Coach Tom Thibodeau knows the Bulls are a better team when they have Hinrich on the court, but he continued to stick to his “next man up’’ mentality.
“Well, every player has different strengths and weaknesses, so you may lose some of what his strengths are, but you gain different strengths and the same with the weaknesses,’’ Thibodeau said. “So you want to play to your strengths and cover up your weaknesses and function well as a team, and we’re capable of doing that.’’
Thibodeau wasn’t looking to use statements made in the media to motivate his team like Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo did before Game 5.
“No, no,’’ Thibodeau said. “If we have to rely on that, you know, to me it’s meaningless.’’