[UPDATE by your friendly BullsBlogger, 04/25/12 9:54 AM CDT: The Bulls cancelled shootaround and did a walkthrough instead this morning. ]
With the Bulls clinching the #1 seed in the East on Tuesday night, both them and Indiana are locked in their respective seeds. The Bulls do have a chance to get the best overall record on the league.
Danny Granger is expected to sit for Indiana as he rests a sore knee, but everyone else should be a go for the Pacers. [Mike Wells wisely notes that the Pacers are "not at the point where they can just turn the switch on and off whenever they want". ~A.S.]
Meanwhile, the Bulls are finally getting a full roster again, and Thibs doesn't seem ready to mess with that now. There's definitely a need for the starters to get minutes together. He's being a bit defensive though:
"When you look at what the starters have done, our guys up front, nobody is playing starters minutes. They haven't all season. When you look at backcourt guys, Derrick has played 1,300 minutes this year. Rip has played less. Everybody talks about Luol. Luol has only played 2,000 minutes this season. You have a well-rested team. You have to also keep in mind we've played more than 10 guys all season long. That also plays into it. The two things that are important at this point of the season is playing well and being healthy so if someone needed rest we'd give him rest.
Keep in mind, this was before the Bulls had clinched the top seed in the East. But Thibs has been deranged about Luol the whole season so why stop now, I guess. Plus, him being a fantastic coach and all helps give cover on such matters. He gets the most out of his players because he's unrelenting in preparing them, so this is part of that philosophy.
Derrick Rose participated in a full practice Tuesday, but isn't 100% according to most. Trust our eyes on this one, he did not look himself against Dallas but that was back on Saturday.
I wouldn't mind a compromise where the starters see the first stint of each half, but rest otherwise. They have more than enough to win, as the coach often says.
It's actually sorta unfortunate that the Bulls and Pacers will be on opposite sides of the playoff bracket, and that this game is now pretty meaningless. It's a fun rivalry, as exhibited by an Indy Cornrows poll that's a fairly-even split on going all-out against Chicago simply out of spite. I can respect that.