Monday, April 30, 2012

Rose Is Done, Are The Bulls?

Call Chicken Little.  The sky is falling on the Bulls!

Derrick Rose is out for the season with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), and Bulls fans’ confidence tore right along with that ligament in Derrick’s knee when he went down.  Immediately, questions about why he was in the game at the point came up, and I’m sure more than a few Bulls fans took to Twitter to release their pent up anger at Tom Thibodeau for leaving Derrick in the game when it was seemingly in hand.

Derrick Rose in a heap on the United Center Floor
But hey, this is the same Bulls team who had the best record in the league while playing 27 of their 66 games without Derrick, right?


BUUUUTTTTTT…..this is the playoffs now.  They might be able to get by the Sixers in Round One still, and maybe even the Celtics in Round Two.  But do we really think they can beat the Heat in the playoffs WITHOUT Derrick Rose?  Did you see what the Heat did to the Knicks on Saturday?  The Bulls went 2-2 against Miami during the regular season, and 1-1 without Rose.  But the Heat are built for championships.  They don’t really care about the regular season, so long as they get into the playoffs.  They flip a switch when the lights come on for real, and there’s no reason now to think they wouldn’t beat the Bulls, sans Rose, in five games.

The bottom line is, the playoffs are a completely different story than the regular season.  It’s part of what makes the NBA so unappealing to me, at least during the regular season.  I’ll stop short of saying that guys don’t try hard, but they certainly don’t play with the same intensity in December that they do in April and May.  That’s just common sense.  Guys have talked about the 82 game season and how you can’t go balls-out every night because you just won’t last the whole season.

As far as cutting the season down is concerned, let’s just say I’d love to see it.  But David Stern was on the Dan Patrick Show last week, and he essentially said that it would never happen.  Too bad.  I think it would make their product better.

You might be asking yourself, “Self, why in the world would Tom Thibodeau have his best player, the key to their championship run on the floor with 90 seconds remaining in a 12 point game?”  I say it’s a fair question, but there’s a fair answer as well.

The Sixers had closed the gap, and stranger things have happened (ie Clippers and Grizzlies last night).  Rip Hamilton had Thibs’ back:

"Philly was making a run. In playoff basketball, you never want to give a team confidence. ... When you have a team down, you have to try to keep them down. They made a little run so we needed guys that could put the ball in the basket."

Doug Collins also gave his support:

"He knows what he's doing coaching his team," Collins said. "Thibs is my buddy. I have the ultimate respect for him. From his standpoint, he wanted to finish that game for what he did. It's awful that Derrick got hurt."

They’re exactly right.  It’s an unfortunate injury to a key player.  If the injury had happened to CJ Watson or even Taj Gibson, their depth would take a hit, but the most important player would still be on the floor and Bulls fans would still feel good about their chances.  Speaking of CJ Watson, he’s going to have to play out of his mind if the Bulls are to have any chance at even making it to the Finals, let alone winning them. 

There’s no set time for recovery from ACL surgery.  It depends on how the athlete bounces back from surgery, not only physically, but mentally as well.  It’s about how Derrick attacks his rehab.  I tore my ACL when I was in high school, and I was running and playing basketball, albeit cautiously, four months out of surgery.  I wasn’t anything remotely near the elite athlete Derrick Rose is, so I think he’ll be fine.  I heard someone suggest even that he could be back by opening night next season.  I think that’s a stretch.  Not that he can’t do it, but there’s no reason to rush him back because it’s such a long season and the Bulls are still a good team, even without the reigning MVP on the floor.

Sadly, Bulls fans, I think the championship dream is lost.  Tom Thibodeau is NOT to blame, and Derrick will return to form eventually.

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