NETS AT BULLS, 8 P.M. ET

TV: TNT

  • Bulls forward Luol Deng was declared out of the game Thursday due to the flu. The decision was announced just minutes before tipoff. Bulls forward Taj Gibson, who also suffered from flu-like symptoms this week, was still listed as a game time decision. Marco Belinelli was listed as the starter in Deng’s place.
  • There were things coach Tom Thibodeau was not saying, and things he did not know 90 minutes before Game 6 in the first round playoff series between his Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets. For instance, he did not know whether starting forward Luol Deng or backup forward Taj Gibson would be able to play as they struggle with flu-like symptoms. He did not even know whether they would be strong enough to warm up to find out if they could go. What he wasn’t saying was who would start in Deng’s place if he could not play. “Undecided,’’ Thibodeau said. He also revealed that guard Nate Robinson has been dealing with similar symptoms for some time, although it has not kept him from playing. “I think this is part of this league,’’ he said. “Over the course of the season there are times where you are not going to be feeling well and you do everything you can to play, and that is what our guys are doing right now.”
  • One thing Thibodeau did confirm is that guard Kirk Hinrich would not play because of his calf bruise which is possibly more serious than just a bruise. There were reports Thursday that he could be suffering from a muscle tear in his calf. Thibodeau did not say who would start in Hinrich’s place. Robinson started for him on Monday in the loss at Brooklyn.
  • Brooklyn coach P.J. Carlesimo said the Bulls have proven they can survive despite absences. “I think they are a deep team, and frankly they have been dealing with this the whole year,’’ Carlesimo said. “It has been like a Medi-Vac unit the whole year. It also hasn’t mattered. “
  • Meanwhile, Carlesimo revealed that he has sick players as well. “Reggie (Evans) didn’t practice yesterday; he’s got the flu, or a cold,’’ Carlesimo said. “Ray (Andray Blatche) and Joe (Johnson) did not practice yesterday and did not go through shoot-around today. But it’s the same thing (as the Bulls). If any of those guys can’t go, we’ve got guys that can play.”
  • The funniest moment of Thibodeau’s pre-game talk with reporters came when he was asked who among his players was the sickest. “Now we are into degrees of sickness,’’ he said with a smile. “I feel great.”
  • Here is a fun fact about the Bulls and their playoff position this year. This is the fourth time in team history the Bulls were the fifth seed going into the first round of the playoffs. Despite not having homecourt advantage in any of those series, the Bulls advanced each of the previous three times.

– Kent McDill

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