Deng could return Sunday (What the eff?!?); Rose didn't like Indy celebrating

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 21: Loul Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls holds his wrist after injuring it shooting a shot against the Charlotte Bobcats at the United Center on January 21, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bobcats 95-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Despite torn ligaments in his left wrist, Luol Deng could return as early as Sunday, when the Bulls face the Heat in Miami, Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting.

With speculation of surgery after the season, there isn't cause for concern that Deng will now suck until he has surgery, as it's his non-shooting hand. But while the injury is so fresh, this injury is being taken lightly if such a swift return is seriously entertained.

That left wrist is needed to max out to do all of those things that Deng does to 'glue' the team together. It's needed to fight for rebounds, establish position off the ball, create space on the dribble drive, attack passing lanes, and set effective screens.

On top of that, how is anyone comfortable with Deng checking a 6'9", 275-pound freak of nature playing the most aggressive basketball of his career in LeBron James on Sunday afternoon?

LeBron is going to brutalize whoever the Bulls throw at him because he's unguardable by any team defense, let alone any individual. With or without Deng, the Heat can play a small lineup with LeBron at the four and still be longer than the Bulls with Shane Battier, Mike Miller, and Mario Chalmers on the floor, no matter who's in the middle. In that case, Joakim Noah's a better option to check LeBron with Omer Asik in the middle because, with Deng at the stretch-four, you're forcing him to box out more and fight for more rebounds.

Erik Spoelstra's a better coach than he's given credit. And though LeBron may not be the killer, he's the most talented basketball player we've ever seen. Add that he's bigger and more the opportunist than ever before. What you then have is that beast doing everything he can to force Deng to either use the left or tie it behind his back.

In that case, the Bulls likely lose anyway with Deng losing more weeks -- if not months -- so what's the friggin' point?

Deng will be able to play without surgery and be effective with painkilling substances and keep the wrist safe with splints, bandages, tape, etc. And that time could be within a couple of weeks. But that time isn't within days.

  • Down the road, whether or not we're going to look back at these Bulls and Pacers to see a significant rivalry is unknown; but we can be sure that Derrick Rose doesn't like them. The Twitter hashtag for their next matchup may have to be "#neverforget', as he said after the game: "I will never forget how they celebrated just from winning this game. I can't wait to play them again."
  • A lot of bad things happened for the Bulls to lose their fourth game of the season, but not playing as big as they are was the main reason, Matt McHale notes:
    The Pacers ended up outscoring the Bulls 50-40 in the paint and outrebounding them 44-41.

    Yes, Chicago shot poorly (40 percent) while Indy shot unusually well (47.5 versus their season average of 42.1), especially Danny Granger (9-for-16 despite shooting 37 percent on the season).

    Yes, Carlos Boozer (5-for-14) and Rip Hamilton (6-for-20) were shooting with blinders on.

    Yes, the absences of Luol Deng (wrist) and Taj Gibson (ankle) likely affected the outcome.

    But the rebounds, the layups and dunks, all the effort and hustle plays that went the Pacers’ way…

    …those are the reasons the Bulls lost.
    Rose is the 6'3" superstar, but the biggest reason the Bulls win is because they're bigger than everyone else and they play normally like it in a league where size still kills. The Bulls had a high 31.3% offensive rebounding rate, but also allowed a very high 29.7%, according to Hoopdata. The second half was just nauseating as the Pacers scored 32 in the paint on 16-for-26 (61.5%) to the Bulls' 16 on 8-for-19 (42.1%) in a game where Indy came back from a ten-point halftime deficit to win by five [.pdf]. Do the math.
  • The Bulls' loss to the Pacers drops them to 8-1 at home in a season where homecourt is mattering more, Kevin Pelton notes:
    Typically, home teams win by an average of somewhere between 3.0 and 3.5 points per game. Early this year, that mark is all the way up to 4.3. Home teams are winning slightly more often (61.8 percent, as compared to 60.4 percent in 2010-11) and they're winning blowouts a lot more frequently.
  • Plug March 30, 2002 into your wayback machine. Kevin Pelton wanted to find the worst starting lineup he could find, dating back to 1986 and discovered, according to his method, it was the one put on the court by the Nuggets on April 17, 2002. The second-worst was the one slated for March 30, 2002 of Kenny Satterfield, Juwan Howard, Calbert Cheaney, Ryan Bowen, and Mengke Bateer by those same Nuggets, but against against the Bulls. Bill Cartwright's red warriors lost that game 100-84.
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