May 2, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT
No Derrick Rose.
A reduced Joakim Noah.
The Bulls don’t have much left besides their 3-2 lead over the Nets, and that might no longer be enough of an advantage to advance over a more talented Brooklyn team.
The loss of Hinrich is particularly harmful. Hinrich had done a solid job of defending Deron Williams, but when Hinrich is out, Williams has scored and set up his teammates with ease. Hinrich’s minutes have mostly gone to Nate Robinson, a poor defender who can’t slow Williams. When Hinrich is off the court, the Nets’ offensive rating is 118.0, and when Hinrich plays, that number dips to 97.5.
The loss of Deng and Gibson might not be so costly. Deng is shooting just 1-for-18 on 3-pointers in this series, and Gibson has just three rebounds in his last four games (54 minutes of play). But the fact that the two key players who might miss the game are struggling doesn’t exactly alleviate Chicago’s problems.
Winning two straight won’t be easy for the Nets, but circumstance keeps making it easier and easier.
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