Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson fully practiced on Tuesday while Derrick Rose participated in the non contact portion of practice and might be "a little ahead of schedule". That's good news for a floundering Bulls team.
Here's Jimmy on his injury.
My body feels great in the morning. My first practice back, I had a few bumps. But I think it’s possible,” Butler said of returning late this week. “But I can’t rush it. I don’t want it to get any worse. It’s never going to have full range while I’m playing, but I think it will feel better in a few days.
“My teammates, coaches and management are all in my corner, telling me to be careful. Obviously, I know that. But it’s hard when I want to play so bad. You want to get back, but you know you shouldn’t come back too early.”
What about Rose?
Rose might be a bit ahead of schedule? The schedule was 4-6 weeks which would put the four week mark at 3/27 if I'm not mistaken.
To me, ahead of schedule would mean beating that date. In what I assume is completely subconscious, the Bulls are so pessimistic about Derrick's return times that they used the phrase slightly ahead of schedule to describe a scenario where he likely returns within the expected time frame.
This isn't ripping on Derrick or his present effort. It's great to see he's likely going to be back. However, it's telling that the front office/coaching staff literally heard 4-6 weeks and immediately changed it to 6-8 weeks in their heads.
Semantics aside, the good news is that Derrick is on the path to return, and it doesn't look likely that he'll miss the playoffs (at least due to this injury).
Meanwhile, Thibodeau commented about the minute restrictions
His comments could be taken innocuously as a response to a simple question, or as a shot across the bow at management.
This is the issue that will ultimately run Thibodeau out of town. The reason is no matter how insane his view is, he doesn't want to change or recognize the problem. We're at the end of another season and half the roster is injured. Again.
The issues are clearly not all of Thibodeau's fault. There have been freak injuries and weird illnesses. However, there has also been a constant over use and unnecessary wear and tear as well. Would it surprise anyone if Pau Gasol breaks down sometime between now and the end of the season?
No matter how great Thibodeau is with so many other things, it's really hard to side with him on this issue, particularly when we've seen the next guy step up pretty frequently when given a consistent run of minutes and not a four minute spurt once a game.
14 games left, how do the playoffs look?
The Bulls are limping towards the end of the regular season and the seeding chase doesn't look good for Chicago. They're presently in 4th, a half game behind Toronto and a half game ahead of Washington. However, they're playing so badly that it's easy to see them falling to fifth.
The return of Butler/Gibson will help steady the ship, but the Bulls will have to find continuity again after their return still.
It looks like 5th is as far as they can drop, but it's somewhat irrelevant whether they are 5th or 6th since Washington/Toronto are similar caliber first round opponents.
If they could climb to 3rd then they'd be in a much better spot in the first round with a likely creampuff matchup against the Bucks.
The Indiana game tonight is actually a fairly meaningful game for Chicago to win. They'd probably prefer Indiana plays Cleveland in round one (tougher match up than Milwaukee) and they'd like to climb to 3rd to play the Bucks.
Knocking of Indiana would help keep them in seventh as well as help them climb towards third. The one thing Chicago has going for it in the race for 3-6 is that none of the other teams are playing particularly well either. That might change, but over the past month no one has gone on much of a run outside of Cleveland.
If Chicago gets healthy, they could easily be the team that closes out the season strong and finishes in third. It ultimately still doesn't matter so much, and I think in my favorite (reasonable) scenario that Washington finishes 3rd, the Bulls finish 4th, and the Raptors finish 5th with Milwaukee 6th and Indiana 7th.
(Even better if you could swap Milwaukee and Toronto, but that doesn't pass the reasonable test)
In the above scneario the Bulls play Toronto, Atlanta, and likely Cleveland, but the Cavs have to go through Indiana and Washington first which would be the two opponents outside of Atlanta (which they can't play until the ECF) that have any shot at all of knocking off the Cavs.
In the end, the Bull seem far more likely to get the nightmare bracket of Washington, Atlanta and then Cleveland which would be the three teams best equipped to defeat them even if they're healthy (and if not healthy, the Bulls aren't a favorite against anyone).
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