Deng is finally out of the hospital, but he's lost 15lbs and is still far too weak to play. Hinrich had a second MRI on his bruised calf that showed the muscle damage he sustained hasn't improved any. In short, don't expect either player to suit up in this series though they're both listed as day to day and doubtful for tonight.
Of the two, it'd be less surprising if Deng eventually comes back, but even if so, what he'll be able to give the Bulls is up in the air. Deng noted when describing the injury that he played through a fractured thumb earlier this season which hadn't been disclosed previously.
How do the Bulls get up off the mat after a complete and total beat down tonight?
The most likely answer is they can't. Not because they're mentally beaten. I expect Chicago to come into this game with a ton of fire, passion, and will.
However, the simple fact remains, the Heat likely have too much talent for a fully healthy Bulls squad, and they certainly have too much talent for this team missing two of its top three players and one of their best defenders.
On top of the talent disparity, the refs are likely going to go nuts calling fouls which will put the Bulls thin depth in even more trouble as they simply don't have the reserves to bring in and help once key players go to the bench, and that's if the game is whistled evenly which I don't think many Bulls fans expect.
No, tonight, it will take one of the all time epic efforts for Chicago to pull this game out. It will likely take a little help on top of that in terms of Miami's role players not playing well. It's an uphill fight, but if the Bulls are to win, they'd better do the following...
Control the boards
It's the one place the Bulls (and many others) have consistently been able to beat the Heat. Chicago can't compete with Miami's offensive efficiency, but they can potentially put up 10 more shots than the Heat. If they do, they no longer need to shoot 50% from the field to balance this thing out.
The Bulls are in a tough boat with crashing the glass though because Miami's such a great fast break team that sending players after the offensive rebound may leave them even more vulnerable in transition as guys will be running toward the basket instead of back on defense.
Limit turnovers and dismantle the trap
The Heat thrive on turnovers and once they get in the open court they're nearly unstoppable. The Bulls have struggled with the trap at times, and when they give Miami easy points, things have a habit of going bad really fast.
Chicago also needs to find a scheme to be effective out of the double team on the ball. I'd suggest the Bulls will need to look to make three quick passes as soon as the double team comes in order to take advantage of a scrambling Heat defense trying to recover, and they'll need to scheme how those passes should look with various options.
The Heat recover much too fast, the majority of the time, for a single pass on the double team to get the open shot, but if the Bulls are patient enough to move the ball multiple times, precise with their passing, and swing the ball quickly then they should find ways to get quality looks when the double team comes.
It's a tall order though, as the Bulls never really succeeded in doing so with Derrick Rose running the point, and Nate Robinson's a bit more limited in what he can do.
Slow down the corner threes
Anyone defending Miami is in for a tough battle in terms of which shots it gives up to the Heat. The Bulls probably can't limit open three point attempts completely, but what they do need to do is limit the chip shot threes from the corner while still trying to make life difficult for LeBron/Wade.
If I'm Chicago then I'm looking at making Chris Bosh beat me on mid range jumpers or Battier / Chalmers / Cole beat me with threes from the wing. It's not to say that if you do that you'll win. Those guys are all capable of hitting those shots, but if it's the lesser of the evils of the Heat's offense compared to giving up drives at the rim or corner threes to Ray Allen.
Bring the emotion, bring everything
Chicago can't afford to leave anything on the floor. Not for a second. They need to bring it from start to finish. 48 minutes of hell. 48 minutes of emotional and physical intensity. 48 minutes of irrational confidence.