CHICAGO -- For a brief moment, it appeared Ronnie Brewer had been freed.
As he shot baskets Saturday at the Berto Center in advance of the Eastern Conference finals, Brewer no longer wore the black tape that has protected his left thumb since he sprained it April 12.
But Brewer said doctors will continue to make him wear the protection during games.
"When I first injured it, it was tough to do a lot of the things I like to do -- get my hands in the passing lane, shoot the ball with ease, dunk," Brewer said. "Some days are better than others. It depends on if it got hit in the game. After some games, it's throbbing because it's taped up to where I can't move it.
"But now I'm feeling more comfortable. You have to play through it. This is the playoffs. Whenever you do go in, you have to contribute somewhere."
Brewer played well late in the Hawks series. He will be needed to chase Dwyane Wade around at times in this one.
'D' it up: In an interview with TNT that will air Sunday, LeBron James added a postscript to his celebratory stance after the Heat eliminated the Celtics. James said he now must vanquish Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who designed the Celtics defense that eliminated James during his days with the Cavaliers.
"He's such a great player," Thibodeau said. "(As) with all great players, he's very difficult to stop. You don't stop him. What you try to do is make them work for their points, try to take as many easy baskets away as possible, and then try to shut down others. Great players have the ability, even if you defend them well, to score."
Thibodeau knows one way to slow the Heat is to limit turnovers and thus transition.
"If they get live-ball turnovers, they convert them very quickly," Thibodeau said. "You pay a price for bad shots against them. And you have to have floor balance. They're very good at challenging shots and then releasing. If you're not back at the raise of the shot, they're going to have an advantage."
Layups: Thibodeau said the Bulls are planning to see James switch onto Derrick Rose at times. The Bulls also will crossmatch occasionally with Joakim Noah drawing Chris Bosh. ... TNT reported averaging a 3.0 U.S. household rating and about 4.8 million viewers in the first two rounds.