NBA Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls Without Five Key Players Against Brooklyn Nets

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What a nightmare for the Chicago Bulls. As soon as I might say things couldn’t get much worse, they could be hit with yet another injury. So, I’m not going to say it.

Just in case you’re not heavily into the NBA and are only really aware of one giant loss for the Bulls this season in superstar Derrick Rose, allow me to shed some light on the current situation in Chicago.

Tonight as the Bulls take on the Brooklyn Nets in what may end up being a first round playoff preview, they will be without five key players and two more will be playing at less than 100% health. That makes it a grand total of seven players on the injury report.

Center Joakim Noah is still out with plantar fasciitis taking a toll on his foot. Noah has been amidst one of his greatest season’s as a pro and earned his first trip to the NBA All Star Game this year. One of his pals down low, Taj Gibson, who normally comes off the bench to give the Bulls a huge lift in energy and momentum, will be out with a knee injury. Gibson may even miss the rest of the regular season; at this point it isn’t clear yet.

Starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton will be out yet again tonight. What’s new? His backup Marco Belinelli is also listed as out, forcing a switch up in the starting five where Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler start at the two and three respectively.

I’m getting tired of writing these types of stories for the Bulls. So tired, that I forget sometimes which player has what injury. Kirk Hinrich, for example, has been listed with an official eight different injuries this season. Who in the world genuinely wants to keep track of that, especially as a fan? Hinrich is in the lineup tonight, but many speculate whether or not he is truly at full health given his season of physical blunders.

Deng will be in the lineup tonight, as usual. It just might take somebody to break one of his legs to get him to sit out a game for the Bulls. For the last year and a half, Deng as opted not to get surgery on a torn ligament in his wrist and instead continue to play through it for the sake of his team. I have a feeling this off season head coach Tom Thibodeau will have a say in whether or not Deng continues this trend.

Who would have thought going into this year that the most consistent and healthy body for the Bulls would be Carlos Boozer? Many believed he was an All Star snub after leading the Eastern Conference in double-doubles up to that point, and he has turned it up a notch even further since then. Boozer has been playing great basketball for Chicago and is one of the few reasons they have had anything going on offense at all this season.

Tonight going up against the Nets, guys like Butler and Boozer will have to step up big time. As usual, Deng will need to be all over the court and continue his lock down defense and offensive efficiency he has provided recently. Don’t ever sleep on a Thibodeau-coached team. I assure you they will make it difficult for any team on most nights, though down some significant bodies. Tonight is yet another test for the “next man up.”

Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NBA contributor for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google