Bulls: Pau Gasol says he'll play in Game 6 vs. Cavs


Bulls: Pau Gasol says he'll play in Game 6 vs. Cavs

He doesn’t know how long he’ll play or how much he can give, but Pau Gasol will suit up for the Bulls tomorrow in Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While his left hamstring has made enough progress for him to at least declare himself fit to play, it doesn’t mean Gasol will be back to the double-double machine he’s been for the entire year—but any little bit can help.

“At this time of the year, whatever a guy can give you, you’d like him to give it to you,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Obviously, he’s a very talented player. Hopefully he’ll be ready tomorrow. He’s a great rebounder. So that would be a big plus. Offensively, obviously he’s a hub on offense. You can throw the ball to him. You can pick and roll with him. So he would add a lot.” 

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There wasn’t a full practice to go through, just a film session and a walkthrough after the Game 5 loss to Cleveland at the Advocate Center, so he hasn’t been able to truly test his left hamstring—but after going through some exercises with the staff before Game 5, it didn’t tighten up on him in the time being.

“Just walked through stuff, but I was able to do some good running,” Gasol said. “I was able to do some shooting for the first time and move OK. So made some good progress today. No residual pain from yesterday. Making progress, but at the end of the day tomorrow is the game, and I’ll do everything I can to help the team."

The Bulls have sorely missed his scoring and his presence on the interior, especially when you factor in their sub-40 percent shooting nights in Games 4 and 5, the two games Gasol has missed as a whole.

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But facing elimination, the circumstances seemed to make the choice for him.

“I mean right now it’s win or go home,” Gasol said. “There’s nothing left but tomorrow’s game. What percentage I’ll be able to play? I don’t know, but whatever percentage I will be that’s what I’ll give.’’

There doesn’t appear to be much of a gameplan on minutes restrictions, just playing it by ear and how his body deals with going full speed.  He hasn’t tried to jump yet, nor has he done anything explosive, but the Bulls will take whatever they can get from him and hope the adrenaline carries his body through the game.

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“We’ll go with how it goes and how it reacts. We talked about it with the training staff to probably it wouldn’t be wise to play the usual amount of minutes,” Gasol said. “To play the first 12 minutes like I usually do in the first quarter and the third. But we’ll go how it feels and how it reacts, and we’ll go from there. I’ll tell you right now, whatever I can do to help, whichever way I put myself out there to do that."

Perhaps an exercise bike to keep his body warm or some additional stretches will be done, but he doesn’t have a plan, just hoping his presence alone will give the Bulls a jolt.

“As much as I can, to the point that I'm helpful on the floor,” Gasol said. “If I can't be helpful and I'm hurting the team, then I'll make a decision. But hopefully, that won't happen.”

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.