The Bulls will be without Kirk Hinrich for Game 1 tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks … and only Kirk Hinrich.
That in itself is at least a minor miracle considering the body count that has piled up in the training room for this team throughout the season.
Derrick Rose (left knee), Joakim Noah (left knee) and Taj Gibson (shoulder) each participated in the Saturday morning shootaround at the Advocate Center, and while the team remained vague about minutes restrictions, the fact that it will be mostly a full roster seems to be the major positive.
“You begin your season with the end in mind: What are you going to need for the end?’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And so you know it’s a process you have to go through. You don’t want to skip any steps. You want to put in the work that’s necessary to give yourselves the best chance possible to succeed. So this is the next step along the way, and it reveals if you have put the work in. Hopefully we have and we’ll see how it unfolds.’’
As for Hinrich (left knee), according to Thibodeau his recovery has “plateaued,’’ so there’s a good chance that Game 1 won’t be the only game of the best-of-seven series that he misses. That means Aaron Brooks will be the first guard off the bench, and Tony Snell is that ninth man in the nine-man rotation Thibodeau was planning to roll with.
“Yeah, he’s handled every role well,’’ Thibodeau said of Snell. “When he wasn’t in the rotation he kept himself ready, his attitude was always upbeat. He’s worked extremely hard, whether he’s had a major role where he’s started and played big minutes or a rotation role, just coming off the bench. Just knowing what he should do, so he’s handled each part extremely well.
“I think he’s gotten better. And the big thing with him is just to be consistent, and that’s coming along. So I’m pleased with his overall development, he’s important to our team, and we expect him to play well.’’
Noah also met with the media, but as usual this time of year, playoff mode for the emotional Noah means a lot of short answers and clichés.
“I think everybody plays basketball is excited about this time,’’ Noah said. “Not just us but everybody. Everybody’s excited to play in the playoffs. Every basketball player.’’