According to Vinny Del Negro, both Kirk Hinrich (bruised right quadriceps) and Tim Thomas (hyper-extended left knee) will be game-time decisions tonight. Said Vinny: “They’ll warm up before the game and see how loose they can get. If they can give us some minutes, they will.”
I’m not all that concerned about whether Timmy plays, but we really need Kirk for this one. And not a hobbled, limping-through-the-pain Kirk, either. He’s our best defender against Dwyane Wade. I’m not kidding. Look, Wade’s been playing like an MVP this season. Everybody knows that. He leads the league in scoring (29.4 PPG) while shooting 49 percent from the field. Furthermore, he’s ninth in assists (7.6 APG) and ranks first among guards on the boards (5.1 RPG).
But check out Wade’s splits. He’s decidedly less spectacular against the Bulls: 26.0 PPG, 43 percent shooting, 2.5 RPG and 4.5 APG. He’s struggled against Chicago in previous seasons too. Seriously. And his worst-ever playoff series came against the Bulls in 2006-07. I’m not saying Kirk is a Wade Stopper. I’m not. However, he makes Dwyane work hard for everything, and he’s been doing it for years.
Now the Bulls are heading into enemy territory and their best defensive weapon against the opponent’s best offensive weapon couldn’t walk around a traffic cone without limping. I’ve played a lot of pickup ball, and when the guy who’s defending me is hurt, all I can think about is going right at him. You better believe Wade is thinking the same thing.
I suppose Vinny could put John Salmons on Wade. But with Luol Deng out, Salmons will likely start at small forward. If he covers Wade on D, who’s Ben Gordon going to guard? Yakhouba Diawara? I don’t think so. Diawara’s 6’7″. That would be a recipe for disaster. And Derrick Rose sure can’t check Wade (or many other people, for that matter). So, yeah. I have a bad feeling Dwyane is going to have a huge night at our expense…