Oh, fiddlesticks, applesauce, humbug and horsefeathers!
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg Monday in a flat monotone before the Bulls were to host the Milwaukee Bucks delivered perhaps what should not be unexpected among the Bulls these days.
Perhaps the disbelief should be expected by now.
After the Bulls regular starting lineup played one consecutive game together for the first time this season in Saturday’s win over the Houston Rockets, Hoiberg revealed Jimmy Butler will not play Monday because of swelling in his left knee. It’s the same knee that kept him out 11 games with a strain before Butler had 24 points in his Saturday return in 34 minutes before fouling out.
“Jimmy developed some swelling in the knee as the day went on,” Hoiberg said about 90 minutes before the game. “Not exactly sure yet (about what occurred). He’ll meet with the team doctor tonight and we’ll go from there. Right now it’s too early to say how long it will be. Maybe he’ll feel much better (tomorrow). I imagine some type of test will happen in the next few days.
“Obviously, there is concern,” said Hoiberg. “Jimmy is a warrior; he would try to play through anything. He developed swelling around that knee and has a lot of soreness in there. It’s too early to tell exactly how long this one will be. He’s optimistic he’ll be back soon in talking to him. I’ll never doubt him.”
Thus E’Twaun Moore returns to the starting lineup, and, if no offense to Moore, who has performed gallantly in relief, it’s a blow to the Bulls playoff chances given Butler’s all around play. The Bulls played their best defense in weeks Saturday with Butler’s return.
“He (Butler) was a little stiff (at practice Sunday), as expected,” Hoiberg said. “He had a little bit of soreness in his back. He works out so hard. You get that first game action (you) get a little stiffness in the back. He was moving around pretty well at practice (Sunday). As the night went on (and he) came in this morning, (he) didn’t do much at shootaround. More (because of) the back than anything and then it kind of swelled up as the day went on.
“Our guys can’t (have that in) their mind as they go out,” said Hoiberg of the seemingly cursed roster. “It is what it is. We had the last month playing without Jimmy. Jimmy and Jo (Noah) out of the lineup, we’ve obviously struggled on the defensive end. So somebody has to step up and defend and take away what Milwaukee wants to do. We’ll know more tonight into tomorrow as far the severity. Jimmy will be back when he feels right.”
Hoiberg added that he expects Noah to rejoin the team as a spectator Wednesday.