Chicago Bulls big man Pau Gasol will miss Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday with a strained left hamstring:
Thibodeau said Gasol is out for Game 4. Won't reveal who starts.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 10, 2015
Gasol strained his hamstring in the Bulls’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers, but he tried to play through it in Game 3 before succumbing to the injury in the second half. The big man wasn’t very effective in the last two games after a big effort in Game 1.
The natural candidate to replace Gasol in the starting lineup is Taj Gibson. The reserve forward has played well in the series thus far, averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 78.6 percent from the field in 24.0 minutes per game.
The other option to start is Nikola Mirotic, who finally got a bigger opportunity in Game 3 after barely playing in the first two games. Mirotic had 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench, and the rookie was also a team-high +19 for the game.
I’d guess Gibson gets the start, as he has been a stellar playoff performer for the Bulls in the past and has the trust of Tom Thibodeau. However, Mirotic will still get plenty of run, especially with Joakim Noah struggling offensively. Thibodeau went with a frontcourt of Gibson and Mirotic for a long stretch in the second half of Game 3, and we could see a lot of that again in Game 4.