The Chicago Bulls will likely be without one of its key stars for today’s Game 4 Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls lead the series 2-1 after Derrick Rose’s Game 3 heroics.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Bulls power forward Pau Gasol is officially listed as questionable for Game 4 after the strained hamstring that forced him to leave Game 3 early was still sore on Saturday. However, it is believed Gasol will not play, as he has previously torn his hamstring in 2009 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and doesn’t want to do it again.
Gasol left Fiday night’s game in the third quarter after scoring just six points in 22 minutes.
“Early in the first quarter, it started to tighten up,” Gasol said. “It really bothered me. I thought it was going to loosen up and I was going to be able to push through it. The more I pushed through it, the worse it got.”
Head coach Tom Thibodou told ESPN that Gasol didn’t do anything during the team’s Saturday practice and that he would “see how he feels [on Sunday].”
Gasol was big for the Bulls in Game 1 of the series, but hasn’t done much since. Gasol finished with 21 points, on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor, and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and four blocks, as Chicago won the opening game of the series 99-92. He has totaled just 17 points and eight rebounds in the past two games of the series.
Gasol has posted six double-doubles in nine playoff games. He is averaging 15.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks this postseason.
If Gasol can’t go, the Bulls will likely go with a smaller lineup as they did in Game 3 when Nikola Mirotic filled in at power forward and Taj Gibson shared time at center with Joakim Noah. Gibson and Mirotic combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, in 45 minutes of action. The Bulls outrebounded the Cavs 54-39 in Game 3.
“Taj had huge rebounds. He played like a big man,” Rose said. “His spirit was there, just effort. Everybody fed off of it a little bit. He hit two clutch free throws down the stretch. He has been here for a long time. We’re going to ride with him.”
Gibson, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds in Game 3, has been very efficient in the series. He is averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. He is shooting 78.6 percent from the floor.
Mirotic, except for Game 3, has seen limited action in the series. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes of action on Friday night despite getting into foul trouble. Mirotic only saw nine minutes of action in the first two games.
Tipoff for Game 4 is set for 3:30 p.m. at the United Center. The game will be televised by ABC.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]