MIAMI – The availability of Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton were game-time decisions. That was expected. C.J. Watson being absent against the Heat was a surprise.
Watson injured his right wrist in Friday night’s win over the Bucks at the United Center and did not play in the Bulls 97-93 loss to the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. The backup point guard’s availability for Monday night’s game against the Wizards will be a game-time decision.
“He’s a lot better [Sunday],” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll see how he is [Monday].”
Deng tore a ligament in his left wrist in a win over the Bobcats on Jan. 21 and hasn’t played since. Deng has elected not to undergo surgery and will try to play through an injury that will test his pain threshold. Thibodeau said he is doing more during practices and feeling better.
“He’s very close right now,” Thiboudeau said. “He’s day to day. You want to make sure he feels good about playing. He’s doing a lot more without contact. You want him to be comfortable. He’s getting closer. As long as he’s moving in the right direction, then we’re pleased with that.”
Hamilton is still suffering from a lingering groin injury and he bruised his thigh in Wednesday night’s win over the Pacers. While he didn’t play against the Bucks Friday, he felt good enough during warmups Sunday to start. He ended up scoring 11 points with two assists and five rebounds in 36:25.
“We had to prepare for Hamilton,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It took a decent part of our walkthrough because he’s new and different.”
Hamilton said he was unsure if he would be able to play against the Wizards on Monday night.
“In the first quarter I felt pretty good,” he said. “As the game went on, I felt like I was playing on one leg. It was tough. It was hard. But it was kind of like a playoff atmosphere. You try to will yourself through the game.”
Hamilton said he’s is frustrated with his inability to remain healthy.
“At times your mind tells you one thing and your body is telling you something else,” he said.
First of many
Chris Bosh said he expects all the games between the Heat and Bulls to end the way Sunday’s did.
“The way I see it, every time we play the Bulls it’s going to be like that,” he said. “It’s always going to be an atmosphere where nobody wants to lose, and that’s how the playoffs are. We don’t expect any blowouts. They’re all probably going to come down to the last couple possessions. They’re a great team, and we’re going to see them many, many times this year.”