Chicago Bulls star Pau Gasol has revealed that he will return in Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers after making “good progress” with his hamstring strain.
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The Spaniard has been sidelined for the past two games with the issue, as he was seen warming up in Cleveland ahead of Game 5 on Tuesday night but was unable to feature.
Chicago have lost both games that he has been absent for, and so his return would undoubtedly give them a huge boost particularly now that they are looking to avoid elimination on Thursday night.
Having led the series with the Cavs 2-1, LeBron James’ buzzer-beating game-winner in Game 4 tied things up before the championship favourites delivered again next time out to swing the momentum in their favour.
However, the Bulls will not go away quietly and after pushing their rivals all the way all series, they will be confident that Gasol’s impact, even though limited, will give them an edge.
“I made some good progress today,” Gasol said after the Bulls’ workout on Wednesday, according to ESPN.
“No residual pain from [Tuesday] also works. We’re making progress. At the end of the day, [Thursday] is the game and I’ll do everything I can to help the team. … I’ll be out there. Whichever way I can be, I will be.”
Gasol initially hurt his hamstring in Game 2, but then after playing just 22 minutes in the next encounter, he realised the severity of the strain and needed to sit out to rest it.
The Bulls in turn have found it difficult offensively without him, and his ability to space the floor as well as crash the boards will certainly give them a much needed lift having ran out of ideas on numerous occasions when running plays.
Coach Tom Thibodeau echoed Gasol’s thoughts in that he will take whatever he can give him at this stage of the season, but the veteran star will undoubtedly make a difference with his presence on the court alone as it is a case of win or go home for Chicago.