Game 3 with Miami sees the series head to Chicago, who have injury concerns.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has hinted that neither Luol Deng nor Kirk Hinrich will be available for Game 3 against the Miami Heat on Friday night.
The two Eastern Conference rivals are currently level at 1-1 in their semi-finals showdown, however the Bulls’ injury woes show no signs of abating.
Speculation has suggested that point guard Derrick Rose could be line to return, but given the numerous false dawns throughout the season, it is unclear as to how likely that is.
Thibodeau’s more immediate concern will be regarding both Deng and Hinrich, who would undoubtedly boost their bid to protect home court. The Bulls can advance at the expense of the defending champions without having to win in Miami again, provided they can clinch three wins in their upcoming home games.
Deng, who has lost both strength and weight since suffering from the effects of flu and a spinal tap to detect spinal meningitis, is unsure as to if or when he will be able to return.
“It’s hard man,” he told the media as reported by ESPN.
“We’ve had a long season. I’ve played with a lot of injuries. I’ve went through the wrist [injury] with torn ligaments. I had a fractured thumb, I played with it. I just went through all that to be able to play. I just didn’t think something beside an injury would keep me out, and that’s what makes it really hard. I don’t know what you can do,” he added.
The 28-year-old hit back at critics who suggested he had sat out the initial game of his spell on the sidelines due to flu, but as the severity of the situation came to light it was important that he took precautions to ensure a full recovery.
While it is highly unlikely that the Bulls fans will see him take to the court on Friday, Thibodeau has described Hinrich as “OK, but he’s still not great” and he will remain a game-time decision.
Chicago have shown through the regular season and in Game 1 of this series that they are able to compete with Miami despite the absence of key starters. However, they will need a great effort from all involved if they are to bounce back from the blow-out defeat last time out.