Dwyane Wade will miss his third straight game as the Bulls close out the pre-All-Star portion of their schedule tonight against the Celtics.
Wade was already questionable with a wrist injury, and head coach Fred Hoiberg said that Wade woke up with an illness that kept him from attending Thursday morning's shootaround at the Advocate Center. Jimmy Butler will play without any minutes restrictions, and Nikola Mirotic will return after missing two games with a back injury. Paul Zipser is also out.
The Bulls are 4-4 this season without Wade but his absence will be felt against a Celtics team that has won four straight, 11 of 12, and climbed within just 2.5 games of the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers. The last time the two teams played each other in Chicago, Wade scored 22 points, including a dagger 3-pointer in the closing seconds to help the Bulls secure a 105-99 victory on Opening Night.
"It takes away one of our stronger options, especially because D-Wade hurts you so many different ways," Taj Gibson said. "He can post guards up, his 3-point shot has been great for us this year. Just his leadership and tenacity, we really want that and we need that some games."
More than that, Wade had been playing his best basketball before the wrist injury he suffered in Friday's loss to the Phoenix Suns. In his last nine games he's averaged 22.6 points on 48 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 30.6 minutes. That stretch included his masterful performance in Sacramento when he scored 11 of his game-high 31 points in a 112-107 win over the Kings.
"He was in a good rhythm," Hoiberg said. "For him to go down now with this wrist injury, now the illness, the break’s coming at a good time for him."
[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]
Hoiberg did say that Wade took part in some portion of the Bulls' practice on Wednesday and the hope is that he'll return without any restrictions when the Bulls start up again Feb. 24 against the Suns.
Without Wade - and Zipser - the Bulls will again rely on their bench, something they did successfully in Tuesday's win over the Raptors. Hoiberg's reserves tallied 54 points, including 20 from Doug McDermott, 12 from Rajon Rondo and 10 from Cristiano Felicio. First-round picks Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine added six apiece as the Bulls' bench outscored Toronto's by 20 points.
"Dwyane, he’s been great. You see a guy like Denzel coming out of the game and the first guy to go talk to him is Dwyane," Hoiberg said. "He still has a very positive impact on our team even when he’s not out there."