Bulls

Game 2 delay doesn't sit well with Devils, Kings

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Game 2 delay doesn't sit well with Devils, Kings

NEWARK, N.J. When youre a part of any playoffs, there are some things you just have to deal with. Injuries and fatigue are two of them.

A gap-filled schedule is another.

The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils will finally get back to hockey Saturday night, when they play Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Final matchup at the Prudential Center. The teams had two days in between Games 1 and 2, which has its plusses and minuses. Yes, guys who are dinged up and plenty are at this time of the year can get an extra days rest.

But its also about playing the waiting game, and not everyone is a fan of it. The team that wins the previous game wants to get back out there and build off that momentum. The team that loses usually wants to get out there and erase the taste left from that game.

Either way, playing is always better than practicing. Or sitting. Or waiting. Same can go for coaches, too.

I dont think its a perfect scenario, all the days off, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday morning. You want to play. You get tired, as coaches, of looking at tape and analyzing. You can analyze to death. From a players perspective, theres this nervous energy and the only release is dropping the puck and playing. I dont think it favors either side. It is what it is and you deal with it.

Devils center Adam Henrique concurred.

I guess after one game its different. You usually expect (an extra day off) after game 2 or 3, but thats out of our control, he said. Theres nothing we can do about it.

Even heading into this series each team had their time off. The Devils had four days off after beating the New York Rangers in six games. The Kings had a week off after dispatching the Phoenix Coyotes in five. If nothing else, the Kings are more used to this day off-filled schedule this postseason. The Staples Center was a very busy place through April and May, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers also there for their respective playoff series. Both NBA teams were eliminated in the second round.

Only difference now is the Kings are working the long layoff on the road.

Its more difficult, maybe, when youre not at home. But thats part of it, Kings forward Dustin Brown said. Its just staying focused. We get away, we do a couple things as a team. Its easy to come back here and get focused. Guys dont need extra attention or push. We just stick to our routine and get ready to go.

The extra day is nice sometimes. But there are two teams who are determined to win a Cup who dont want to wait any longer to play. Time to drop the puck again.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

Kelly Crull, Mark Strotman and Will Perdue react to the news that Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: 

Kris Dunn to miss 4 to 6 weeks with MCL sprain

Kris Dunn to miss 4 to 6 weeks with MCL sprain

The hits keep coming for the Bulls, and after the latest one it might be time to fire up the 2019 mock drafts.

Fred Hoiberg revealed Tuesday before practice that point guard Kris Dunn suffered a moderate sprain of his left MCL in Monday’s loss to the Mavericks and will miss the next 4 to 6 weeks.

“To have him out of the lineup for an extended period, it’s extremely difficult,” Hoiberg said. “When you have a guy who is out there and really made strides over the course of last season and the summer he had and the way he played during training camp, it’s difficult to miss him.”

It’s yet another freak injury for Dunn, who suffered the injury midway through the second quarter while landing after a layup over DeAndre Jordan. Last year Dunn suffered a dislocated finger in the preseason and then suffered a concussion that cost him 11 games. A toe injury then ended his season as the tanking Bulls shut him down for the final 14 games.

But Dunn was expected to play a significant role in Year 2 of the Bulls’ rebuild. As well as leading the team in assists and being the most sure-handed closer, Dunn’s defensive prowess was going to help a Bulls team that finished 29th in efficiency and lost David Nwaba, perhaps their second best defender, in the offseason.

Even prior to Dunn’s injury the Bulls had been addressing the position behind him, claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers on Oct. 14 and signing Shaq Harrison on Sunday. They opted to keep Ryan Arcidiacono on the final roster and will now rely on some combination of those three behind Cam Payne, who tied a career high with 17 points on Saturday against the Pistons.

That’s why Dunn’s injury could affect the team more than Lauri Markkanen’s or Denzel Valentine’s. The Bulls were able to cover up Markkanen’s absence with Bobby Portis and free agent acquisition Jabari Parker, while they invested a first-round pick in wing Chandler Hutchison and guaranteed Antonio Blakeney’s contract over the summer.

There’s quantity on the Bulls’ depth chart behind Dunn, but quality is another story.

“Cam had his best game of maybe his career a couple games ago against Detroit,” Hoiberg said. “He has some things he can build on. The biggest thing at that position is you have to get us organized at both ends of the floor. That’s where Kris had taken a big step in the right direction with that. Arcidiacono is one of the better communicators and hardest-playing guys on our team. We’ve got guys who have some starting experience. It’s big shoes to fill. But I’m confident our guys will give great effort.”

It could mean more ball-handling responsibilities for Zach LaVine, who has been a terror in pick-and-roll sets three games into the season. Though he’s only averaged 2.7 assists, the Bulls offense has been humming, with his 32.3 points per game leading the way. Using LaVine as a primary ball handler could allow Hoiberg to run a point guard-less offense and mix and match the other backcourt position.

They’ll have to do it on the fly. The group of point guards the Bulls will face in the next 11 days include Kemba Walker (Charlotte) twice, Trae Young (Atlanta), Steph Curry (Golden State), Jamal Murray (Denver), Darren Collison (Indiana) and James Harden (Houston). It could get a lot worse for the Bulls before it gets any better, and with Markkanen, Valentine and now Dunn on the mend. 

For those looking into such things three games into the season, the Bulls are currently tied with the Thunder, Cavaliers and Lakers for the worst record in the league. The NBA changed its Lottery rules for this upcoming season, with the three worst teams in the league all sharing the same odds at receiving the top pick in the draft.