Nikola Mirotic out Game 3, maybe Game 4, against Bucks

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As feared by the Bulls, Nikola Mirotic will miss Game 3 against the Bucks Thursday.

As feared by some Bulls fans, Kirk Hinrich will play.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

the Bulls officially ruled rookie forward Nikola Mirotic out of Game 3 with a left knee strain.

And it seems likely he’ll miss Game 4 Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee as well, as he didn’t do any contact activity at practice, doing some light shooting on the side and activity on a bike, but nothing significant.

“We’re prepared both ways,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on the possibility they’ll be without Mirotic all weekend. “That’s the way we have to go into every game. He could play in the next one. It could be two games. I don’t know how many games. He said he feels a lot better today than he did yesterday, which is a good sign.”

It appears Kirk Hinrich will make his return for Game 3 in Milwaukee

Possessing a 2-0 series lead and a better team even without Mirotic, the Bulls have leeway to let him recover against Milwaukee.

But their task will be more difficult without him, even if they want to continue funneling their offense through guards Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Mirotic stretches the floor beyond the 3-point arc, opening space for everyone. Plus, Mirotic competes defensively, making him one the few rookies Tom Thibodeau would play in the playoffs.

For now, more minutes for Taj Gibson works just fine.

It’s too soon for Chicago to look completely ahead to the Cavaliers, who hold a 2-0 series lead against the Celtics, but it’s worth keeping one eye on the next round – and getting Mirotic healthy for it.