Taj Gibson vowed to return from his sprained knee tonight against the Portland trailblazers while Hinrich is "close" to returning which implies not tonight. Derrick remains in limbo with all kinds of quotes about how good he's doing, but no return date set.
"He has had some very good practices," Thibodeau said, speaking of the entire body of work since Rose got cleared for full-court scrimmaging Feb. 18. "The big thing about his game is he makes the game easy for everyone else.
"He demands so much attention and he knows how to create easy scoring opportunities for everybody. That's the mark of a superstar, the ability to make others better. And he does that on both ends."
"He has put so much work into his shot," Thibodeau said. "He feels a big part of shooting is confidence and concentration. And he has had an opportunity to do both those things for an extended amount of time now. He's feeling very good about his shot. He's mixing his game up extremely well right now. He has the shot and the drive going.
"But that's also who he is. Each year, when you look at his game, he's never satisfied. That's what makes him so much special. It's not only the amount of talent he has, but also the drive. He'll continue to get better throughout his career."
"His game is explosion and stop-and-go and all that," Thibodeau said. "So he has to feel very good about that. It's unique. It's power. It's speed. It's quickness. It's agility. It's all those things. His change of direction is such a big part of his game. We have to make sure he's ready to do that. He has handled his part great."
What to make of all this?
It sounds like Derrick Rose looks like Derrick Rose in practice but doesn't want to play yet.
Maybe that's not fair. Afterall, Thibodeau has a tough line to walk. If he says Derrick isn't looking good it causes a panic. If he says he's looking too good then it draws criticism towards Rose. It's difficult to guess how much honesty is in the comments relative to how much he's simply trying to draw as little media attention as possible with whatever he says.
My guess is he's just aiming to stir up the water as little as possible. After all, he's asked about Rose constantly, and he surely doesn't want to say anything that will add even more attention to the subject.
Can the Bulls top the Blazers?
The Bulls have struggled against Portland frequently and their lineup poses several problems for Chicago. The Blazers have plenty of skill and athleticism up and down their roster and their greatest offensive strengths are at PG and PF which are presently the Bulls biggest defensive weaknesses.
The Blazers don't have much depth past their starting five though, particularly on the perimeter. This should make for a game where the starters of both teams play against each other plenty and are similarly fatigued at the end. The Blazers have more offensive talent than Chicago while the Bulls will be bringing more defensive talent to the table, particularly if Taj Gibson returns as expected.
In the end, the Bulls will likely live or die on whether they can find a way to make shots. They had plenty of hot offensive players against Denver to make it a game, but can they repeat that kind of offensive performance against the Blazers? I'm not particularly high on the odds of them shooting well two games in a row.