Boozer: I'm going to play

Carlos Boozer is in the midst of a very rough postseason, by far the
worst of his career. He's averaging just under 10 points, nine and a
half rebounds and 39 percent from the field. Those aren't numbers the
Bulls paid for when they handed Boozer a five-year contract worth around
$75-80 million.

As if things couldn't get worst for Boozer, he
suffered turf toe to his right big toe in Game 5 against the Indiana
Pacers in the first round. It's very popular in football, but rarely do
basketball players deal with turf toe. Still, it's very painful and does
decrease mobility.

Well, news got worst on Saturday, an off day for the Bulls as they prepped for Game 4.
"It's not broken," Boozer told Vaughn McClure and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. "Thank God all the bones are good."

Yes, it isn't broken, thankfully. However, Boozer did reveal that he has torn ligaments "on both sides of his right big toe."

It's been a tough going for Boozer lately, as he got booed by the Bulls faithful at the United Center in Game 2. He showed some life in Game 3, scoring six points in the first quarter and looked like he got some lift back, but he went scoreless the final three quarters on route to a six-point, four-rebound, 22-minute night.

He's averaged just 14 points and eight rebounds since the All-Star break; before the break, Boozer averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Where is that Boozer?

That's the question the Bulls and their fans want to know. Clearly, he hasn't been the same even before the turf toe injury that we now know has resulted in toe ligaments. Would resting Boozer until the Eastern Conference Finals solve the problem?

"I'm going to play," Boozer said. ``I'm doing what I can to help my team
win. And my teammates and my coaches want me out there."

He might not be producing, but you've got to love his commitment. Boozer is usually the first one off the bench to cheer his teammates from the sidelines and continues to say all the right things.

The Bulls should be able to get past the Atlanta Hawks, as they lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Sunday. So while benching Boozer remains an option, don't count on it.

Carlos Boozer--NBA Playoffs.jpg

Photo from Yahoo! Sports

The Bulls won't -- and for good reason. He has played tentatively against the Pacers and Hawks, throwing him out against Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh on a long layoff wouldn't be the brightest idea.

But increasing Taj Gibson's minutes could be an idea. He's shown he can produce under the right circumstances -- playing time -- and did so once again in Game 4, scoring 13 points along with nine rebounds, seven offensive.

While Tom Thibodeau won't remove Boozer from the starting lineup, he has shown he doesn't care how much Boozer's making, he will play whoever gives him the best chance to win.

In Game 3, Thibodeau brought in Gibson for Boozer after the Hawks made an 8-2 run to cut the Bulls lead to 77-71.

In Game 4, Gibson played the final 16:35 of the game.

You could say Carlos Boozer is the Bulls' version of Alfonso Soriano, the overpaid outfielder for the Chicago Cubs. But Thibodeau is certainly not Lou Pinella.

At this point, it's on Boozer to get out of this rut. He's struggling to produce -- injury or not. It won't heal until the offseason, so the Bulls and Boozer will just have to deal with the results.

Only time will tell, but he was brought to Chicago to give the Bulls what they got before the All-Star break: 20 points and 10 rebounds. He's been well below that in the postseason, and signs aren't pointing up.

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