Kirk Hinrich won't be able to play in Thursday night's Game 6 with a deep thigh bruise, leaving the Bulls without their starting point guard as they once again try to close out the Brooklyn Nets, this time at home.
The news -- which includes some surprises -- comes from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Hinrich out. Deng, Gibson still sick. Didn't do shootaround. Gametime decisions. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 2, 2013
Hinrich wasn't likely to play -- he's been in a walking boot since Game 4, when he played 59 minutes in a triple-overtime epic, and was considered doubtful. His absence is big. It forces the Nets to rely on heavy minutes from Nate Robinson, which didn't exactly work out well in Game 5. Although Robinson was huge in a 34-point outburst in that Game 4, the 5'9 guard is a defensive liability when matched up against Deron Williams. Regardless, the Bulls were forced to give him 44 minutes of playing time in Game 5, taking his sometimes-brilliant-sometimes-awful offense along with the bad defense. The Bulls are seriously strapped for depth with Hinrich out and Derrick Rose still unlikely to play this season. We'll see if they trust anybody besides Robinson with key minutes at point guard Thursday night.
The potential absence of Luol Deng and Taj Gibson could turn the situation from bad to disastrous. They'll likely try to play through their sickness, but it could hamper their play. Deng is the Bulls' workhorse, leading the league in minutes played for the second straight season, so any dropoff in his stamina or playing ability from the illness would really hurt for the Bulls. On the other hand, James Harden was experiencing "flu-like symptoms" Wednesday, but hit seven threes after skipping shootaround, so maybe this is good news for Chicago.