Nikola Mirotic playing fewer minutes during Cavs series

SHARE Nikola Mirotic playing fewer minutes during Cavs series
SHARE Nikola Mirotic playing fewer minutes during Cavs series

Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic played just nine minutes through the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting averaged 10 points and five rebounds during the regular season but has had a limited role during the postseason.

Against the Mikwaukee Bucks, Mirotic played three games above 19 minutes, but still only averaged 3.8 points. His best showing was in Game 2, when he fought with Bucks forward ZaZa Pachulia.

In the last five postseason games, Mirotic is averaging only 11 minutes and a little more than three points. This is night-and-day from the first 82 games.

Bleacher Report columnist Sean Highkin said Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls are missing the production and mismatches the 6-10 stretch forward provides. Especially now that Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is on the bench with a shoulder injury, Mirotic can cause a greater mismatch for Cleveland.

A big man who can make James—or one of the Cavs’ bigs—chase him around the perimeter opens up the paint for point guard Derrick Rose to be his most effective and forward Pau Gasol to get more of the open mid-range looks he feasted on in the first game.

Thibodeau is sticking to his plan and says Mirotic will play only in certain situations, even though Bulls big men Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah combined for 15 points in Game 2.

He’s going to be situational right now, Thibodeau told reporters this week. But we need him.

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