The Bulls are unsure yet whether Derrick Rose will return from a three-game absence at Miami on Tuesday night.
But Rose, who will be a gametime decision with right hamstring tendinitis, is making progress, coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday.
“Derrick made it through a lot of practice,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s feeling better. When I worked him out Saturdaymorning, he was in a lot of pain. [Sunday], he worked out again and he had less pain. [Monday] morning, he got a good warmup in, got a good workout before practice and participated in most of it. That’s a good sign, that he hasn’t had a setback after some good hard workouts.’’
Nikola Mirotic and Jimmy Butler worked out before practice,. While MIrotic (appendectomy) faces a long road back, Butler could return for Saturday’s home game vs. Houston after testing his injured left knee in Chicago while the Bulls are on the road.
“Jimmy is going to get some workouts in, play some one-on-one and two-on-two while he’s back here,’’ Hoiberg said. “When we get back, the plan is for him to hopefully practice with us and test it and see how he’s feeling.
Is Saturday realistic?
“We’ll see how it goes,’’ the coach said. “[Butler] would only have one practice. His big thing is getting comfortable and confident he can explode off that left leg, which is his jumping leg. If he feels great in practice, I wouldn’t ruleSaturdayout.’’
That said, Monday vs. Milwaukee seems more likely.
As the Bulls prepared for their two-game Florida swing, Mike Dunleavy, who’s settling in after missing the first 49 games of the season due to back surgery, expressed confidence the team can still get some things done this spring.
Merely making the playoffs is in question at this point. Going into Monday’s games, the Bulls were in a virtual tie with Charlotte and Detroit for the last two Eastern Conference playoff slots. They also were only 2-1/2 games behind Miami, which occupied the No. 4 playoff berth.
“We’ll see,’’ Dunleavy, who has been back for nine games, said when asked if they can overcome their injuries to reach that No. 4 slot. “The good news is, we’re close in the standings. Although we haven’t played great, we’re still in it. That’s the positive of it. Now we’ve to go out there and make it happen.’’
Even with a 28-minutes restriction on Dunleavy that could change, Hoiberg likes what he’s getting from the 6-9 veteran, who returned Feb. 6, the day after Butler went down.
“A lot of [the minutes plan] is based on how Mike’s feeling,’’ Hoiberg said. “We obviously want to have him–he’s such an important part to what we’re doing. He and Jimmy still haven’t played a minute on the floor together. Hopefully, when we get Jimmy back, Mike’s in a good spot and we can make a run.’’
While saying, “I feel really good. My legs are getting underneath me,’’ Dunleavy, 35, declined to stir the minutes pot.
“I’m cool with the minutes I’m playing now,’’ he said. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to build on it, but I’m at a good amount right now where I feel like I can have a good impact on the game. We get Jimmy back and hopefully we can keep everybody’s minutes down and be ready and fresh for the stretch run of the playoffs.’’
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