Nikola Mirotic unlikely to play Game 3

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CHICAGO -- Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is unlikely to play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a strained left quad and a swollen left knee.

"We'll see," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday's film session. "It's going to be a few days. We want to see how he responds to treatment and then we'll go from there. He's sore today, that's to be expected, but we'll know better after a few days of treatment."

The injuries occurred with just under three minutes left in Monday night's 91-82 win over the Bucks when Mirotic and Bucks big man Zaza Pachulia got tangled up. Thibodeau said that Mirotic "caught a knee" in the pileup. He was taken out of the game after the play. Both he and Pachulia were given technical fouls -- the second technical of the night for Pachulia, which resulted in his ejection.

Pachulia's first technical came after he elbowed Mirotic in the head with four minutes left in the game. There was an initial fear in the locker room after the game that Mirotic may have suffered a concussion, but Thibodeau said Tuesday that was not the case. Thibodeau would not speculate on Mirotic's status for Game 3 on Thursday night, but he said if the game were Tuesday night, Mirotic would not be able to play. Mirotic spoke to Thibodeau and Bulls trainer Jeff Tanaka after Tuesday's film session and wore a big wrap over his left knee and hobbled gingerly toward the training room.

"I don't want to put a timetable on it because we don't know," Thibodeau said of Mirotic's Game 3 availability. "It's a strain so you don't know how it will respond. Just get treatment, he'll be in here two, three times a day and we'll see how he feels."

The good news for the Bulls is that veteran guard Kirk Hinrich continues to get closer to a return. He missed Games 1 and 2 because of a hyperextended left knee, but Thibodeau is optimistic that he will be available for Game 3.

Bulls guard Derrick Rose also said he has no soreness after playing 38 minutes in Game 2. It was the most Rose has played in a game since returning to the court April 8 against the Orlando Magicfollowing a meniscectomy on his right knee.

"I feel good," Rose said. "Real confident in my body and how hard I worked to get back here. I feel great today. As far as like playing those type of minutes every game, we'll have to see."

As for the physicality of play in Game 2, Thibodeau didn't seem surprised by the way the aggression on the floor escalated.

"I think that's sort of the nature of the playoffs," Thibodeau said. "When you have the same teams going at it, it usually -- that's the way it goes."