The Chicago Bulls lead the Brooklyn Nets 3 games to 1, and are just one game away from moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, that road just got much rougher as starting point guard Kirk Hinrich is out indefinitely with a bruised left calf. He’s not going to play tonight in game 5, and could be out a lot longer.
Losing Hinrich for the rest of this series would be a major blow to Chicago. In game 4, Hinrich played a game high 60 minutes, scoring 18 points and adding 14 assists. He’s looked like the player from his first stint with the Bulls from 2003-2008 before Derrick Rose came on-board. Hinrich was very effective being the quarterback of the offense.
Nate Robinson is expected to be inserted into the starting lineup. No one will forget Robinson’s unforgettable fourth quarter by scoring 23 points, including 12-straight at one point to erase a 14-point deficit with under 3 minutes to go. But being in the starting lineup isn’t where Robinson excels. He’s much more effective providing quick scoring off the bench than he is being out there to start the game. He‘s also not your prototypical point guard since he likes to take the majority of the shots while he’s on the floor.
Without Hinrich this season, the Bulls are just 7-15, and with him, they are 27-12. That’s a major drop off and something the Nets should capitalize on. Hinrich has been so good defending Deron Williams this series and he should play much better against the smaller Robinson.
Only time will tell though. No one thought the Bulls could come back from a 14-point deficit, and they did. Playing without Hinrich is certainly difficult, but nothing this Bulls team can’t overcome.
Game 5 is tonight from Brooklyn with tip-off set for 7pm.