For the first time in weeks, Derrick Rose's availability for tonight's game is not a game-time decision. Coach Tom Thibodeau said his star point guard felt fine after scoring 23 points against the Hawks on Monday after missing five games because of back spasms,fully participated in Wednesday's shootaround at the Berto Center and will play against the Bucks tonight at the United Center.
"He's good," Thibodeau said. "Fine. He's a go."
Rose had left the court by the times the media was allowed onto the practice floor Wednesday. The MVP also did not speak to reporters after returning from injury against the Hawks on Monday.
Tonight marks the team's last game before breaking for the All-Star Game. Rose and Luol Deng will represent the Bulls during the All-Star festivities in Orlando, Fla., this weekend. Thibodeau and his staff will coach the Eastern Conference stars, although the coach said he's not looking past the Bucks.
"You don't want to go on the break early so you don't want to change any of the things you do," Thibodeau said. "You don't want to interrupt your routine at all. When tomorrow gets here we'll deal with all that stuff tomorrow. You have to be locked in today."
Andrew Bogut remains sidelined for the Bucks with a broken ankle. Drew Gooden is doubtful with a sprained wrist and a sore knee and Tobias Harris has a bruised shoulder.
"A big part of it is they have had a lot of injuries to deal with," Thibodeau said when asked about the Bulls dominance of the Bucks of late. "They're a team that plays very hard, they play both sides of the ball, they play together. You study all their games they're all real close. At the end they fall short. They have a number of good wins. They've beaten Miami twice this year. But every game, they're right there. They're a tough opponent.
"They built their team around their point guard and center. Unfortunately for them, Bogut has been hurt a lot the last two years. But when Bogut plays they're a heck of a team. Now they have some other guys who are playing at a really high level. [Ersan] IIyasova is rolling right now, Brandon Jennings is a load, Carlos Delfino can shoot, [Shaun] Livingston has really shown he's the type of guy who makes everyone around him better because of his overall skill set. He can post, he can shoot, he can pass, he can make plays off the dribble, he's got good size. [Mike] Dunleavy is another guy who can shoot. Those guys make your team better. They're a dangerous team."
C.J. Watson will not play tonight as a precautionary measure. Watson suffered from concussion-like symptoms after running face first into Kris Humphries in Saturday's loss to the Nets. He didn't play in Monday's game against the Hawks, either.
John Lucas III and/or veteran Mike James will replace Rose as Watson's backup, depending on the matchup.
"It's smart," Thibodeau said of the league's new concussion policy. "As the information comes forward, it's a good decision by the league to play it safe."