by Eldon Khorshidi | @EldonAdam
Earlier in the day, we noted Caron Butler’s plan to return for Dallas’ series with the Lakers. Since then, injury updates have surfaced from several Eastern Conference teams still alive in the hunt for a Championship.
“Boozer didn’t practice as the Bulls prepared to face the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, which begin Monday at the United Center. Coach Tom Thibodeau expects Boozer to be ready for Game 1. ‘[He's] day to day,’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘He didn’t practice today. We’ll check him again [Saturday]. It’s hard to say [if he'll be ready to play Monday], but I’m thinking that he will be able to. He has some discomfort, but it’s gotten better each day. Hopefully, [Saturday] it will be a lot better.’ Boozer suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Bulls’ clinching win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. ‘I just went up for a shot, the one I made in the second quarter, early in the second quarter, and felt a pop,’ Boozer said after the game. ‘I’m just going to get it right. It’s a good thing we got some time before the next [series].’ Boozer’s injury could open the door to more playing time for Taj Gibson. ‘Knowing Carlos, I think he’s going to play,’ Gibson said. ‘I know he’s going to play hard and he’s going to play well.’”
In other news, Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich is scheduled to undergo an MRI today on the strained hamstring he suffered in Atlanta’s Game 6 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday. Hinrich provides valuable veteran leadership and is familiar with the Bulls, as he ran with them for seven years.
Two injury updates from the Miami Heat: Forwards Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are both doubtful for Sunday’s Game 1 vs the Boston Celtics. Miller has been nonexistent of late, as a left thumb injury limited him to fewer than seven total minutes in Miami’s first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Haslem is still recovering from a foot injury that is taking longer than expected, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has said Haslem could miss up to “two more weeks.” At this point, all signs are pointing to a thin Miami bench to open the series.
Playing in less than 10 minutes of game action since Feb. 1, it seems like Shaquille O’Neal’s retired. But he hasn’t. Nursing a calf injury in recent weeks, O’Neal has increased his work in recent days, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers stated O’Neal should be active by Tuesday’s Game 2. O’Neal was also expected to return in Boston’s first round series against the Knicks, but ended up missing all four games.