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Rose sure Boozer will play in Game 1

Carlos Boozer did not practice Saturday, but Derrick Rose is bullish on Boozer’s return to the lineup as well as Boozer’s return to
productive form after a subpar series against Indiana.

‘‘For sure, he’s going to play,’’ Rose said, adding that Boozer
remains unshaken. ‘‘He’s Booz when he comes in. He’s talking, shooting the ball, doing his
routine. Nothing’s changed.

‘‘He’s going to be good. He’s been looking at film, seeing how aggressive he was in some games. That’s all we’re telling him to do, be aggressive and just play his game. He’s been in this league long enough to be able to get himself out of a little slump.’’

Coach Tom Thibodeau
sounded optimistic but
wouldn’t say Boozer, who has a turf-toe injury and rode a stationary bike during practice, will play when the Bulls open Round 2 of the playoffs against Atlanta on Monday night.

‘‘He was better today, but he’s not quite ready to go yet,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘We just go day-by-day. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He’s doing his lifting, getting treatment, did a little bit of shooting.’’

No MVP word yet

Rose laughed off backup playmaker C.J. Watson’s congratulatory tweet, saying NBA officials haven’t told him he is the league MVP.

‘‘Congrats to drose on winning the MVP he’s played unbelievable this season!!! now just need tibs to win coach of the yr,’’ Watson tweeted Friday.

Rose made light of Watson’s post, saying, ‘‘C.J. knows a lot of people. A lot of famous people, too. So watch that guy.’’

That said, Rose seems a lock for MVP.

‘‘If I get it, it’ll be nice,
unbelievable,’’ Rose said. ‘‘It’s a goal I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to achieve. It’d be huge, not only for me, but for the city.’’

Hinrich maneuver

It likely will be a bittersweet playoff homecoming for former Bull Kirk Hinrich, who’s listed as doubtful for the entire series with a strained hamstring he suffered late in the Hawks’ Game 6 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

‘‘He was my veteran and I was his rookie at one time,’’ Rose said. ‘‘So, yeah, I feel bad about the injury. But I’m sorry to say, I’m just worried about what’s going on over here.’’

Hinrich, who averaged 10.2 points in the series, scored 11 points in the Hawks’ 84-81 victory, including a huge floater over Dwight Howard that gave the Hawks a 78-74 lead with 3:06 left.

‘‘We love Kirk, but we know he’s coming here trying to beat us,’’ said Luol Deng, who played his first six seasons with Hinrich. “We’re looking forward to seeing him.’’

The other former Bull

Another former Bull, guard Jamal Crawford, averaged 20.5 points in 29.8 minutes per game off the bench to lead the Hawks in scoring against the Magic.

‘‘Crawford is a big off-the-bench guy — very explosive,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘At the end of the game, when they have Joe Johnson at the three and Hinrich and Crawford, they can spread you out.’’

Scouting report

The Hawks (44-38) lost their last six regular-season games to become one of only two playoff teams that have allowed more points than they have scored
(the Pacers were the other). But they recovered to beat the Magic 4-2, which is all Thibodeau needed to see.

‘‘I thought they played great defense against Orlando,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re physical, and they’re quick. You can’t turn the ball over against these guys, and you can’t take bad shots — otherwise, you put them in the open floor, and they can convert very quickly. We’re concerned about that.’’



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