Just about a week ago before Game 6 against the Nets, we thought that Luol Deng simply had "the flu." Since then, we've found out that he had a spinal tap, had complications from that spinal tap that involved leaking spinal fluid, and that he has been in and out of the hospital over the past few days.
Today, Deng spoke to the media, and after reading his comments, I simply can't imagine the guy playing basketball again this season. He said that he tried to do some shooting, but really struggled and couldn't do it for long. He admitted to losing 15 pounds over the last week (from some icky stuff), and also said his headaches return when his activity level picks up.
And to top this all off, Deng said he played through a fractured thumb for part of the season, which could explain some of his wretched shooting. This guy is the definition of the walking wounded.
Almost insanely, Deng said he's going to try and do whatever possible and play again in this series. Tom Thibodeau is still calling him day-to-day. The Bulls need to put a stop to this nonsense and shut Deng down for the season. This isn't just playing through some pain. This is some scary stuff.
Meanwhile, Kirk Hinrich isn't doing well either with his "bruised" calf. Thibs confirmed that Hinrich went to get a second MRI to see if there was possibly a tear. I've already heard some speculation on ESPN 1000 that Hinrich might need surgery after the season, which certainly wouldn't be surprising at this point.
It really is a bummer what's going on with these guys, as the Bulls could really use them in this series against the Heat. Not like they would guarantee a huge difference, but at the very least it would give the other available guys more of a break and would keep bums like Marquis Teague and Daequan Cook on the bench. Sigh.
A few other notes:
- Carlos Boozer has been an absolute train wreck so far this series. Not having Hinrich around is certainly hurting him, but he's just not making shots right now. Also, a good portion of his shots are coming from the perimeter. He's 6-of-20 so far in the series, and eight of those shots are from 15 feet and out. How many of those has he made? Just one. Only five shots have come from inside the restricted area, and he's made just two of those. We know Boozer isn't exactly a power player at this point, but with some of the matchups in this series, he should be doing better work down low.
- As allergic to the rim as Boozer is, Dwyane Wade is the exact opposite. Wade has been pretty spotty so far this series, but when he has had success, it's literally almost all at the rim. He has made 14 field goals thus far in the series, and 11 of those have come in the restricted area. He's shooting just 3-of-12 outside the restricted area through the first two games, and also hasn't really been creating much for himself (only three unassisted baskets), meaning he's getting a lot of baskets in transition and off cuts. So the Bulls need to do whatever they can to force Wade into jumpers, which is obviously easier said than done.
- Before Game 2, we found out that the Heat were planning on giving Norris Cole more tick, which initially, didn't seem like a bad thing to me. Naturally, Cole made me eat my words. In 30 minutes, the Kid n Play wannabe had 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 4-of-4 from three while finishing with a +27. Two of those threes were during the Heat's key run at the end of the first half, which helped begin to put the game out of reach. Cole also must be credited for doing an admirable job on Nate Robinson after Nate went off in Game 1. Cole obviously won't make these contributions every game, but he has shown the ability to be a difference maker, which was certainly a bit unexpected.
- As the Heat were busy trouncing the Bulls in the fourth quarter last night, I couldn't help but wonder why Marco Belinelli was on the court and Richard Hamilton was not. Surely Hamilton wasn't that far in the doghouse that he couldn't even get any garbage minutes while one of the Bulls' starters was on the floor? There was some speculation on Twitter that Thibs didn't play Rip out of "respect," but that would be pretty weird. Sports2 made a FanPost with some Rip quotes from a K.C. piece, but they didn't really tell us much. Perhaps there's still an injury? Or is it a punishment? I know Rip is bad, but there's no possible way he's worse than Cook. Just bizarre.
Stats from NBA.com