With only 19 games left until the playoffs, for the Chicago Bulls the injuries to Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton become more significant because there are no guarantees they will be healthy for the postseason.
Everyone assumes you just snap your fingers and they're ready to play, but that's not how it works in the real world.
Rose appeared concerned as he told the Chicago Tribune today. "They say with an injury like this they don’t know how long it’s going to take,"
While Rose's injury is the most significant since he's the star of the team, Hamilton was brought in as the missing piece to help get past Miami, and he's barely played. Because of that, he doesn't have the chemistry with his teammates that you build from playing together.
The Bulls ran into similar problems last year when both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were out for significant stretches and didn't mesh well. With both of them relatively healthy this year, that's no longer the concern it previously was.
And even though they're currently playing, Luol Deng and C.J. Watson are part of the walking wounded as well. Deng was sitting by his locker stall Saturday night with his feet in an ice bucket and his injured wrist wrapped to the max. He hasn't been the same lately, and neither has Watson, Rose's replacement. Even though he had a good game Saturday against Philadelphia, Watson is still banged up and nowhere near 100 percent.
The way this season plays, there is little time to recuperate and recover. It seems like there's a game every other night in addition to the back-to-backs.
The playoffs will be a similar schedule, so whatever bumps and bruises players have will probably linger.
Rose has been out since the game against the New York Knicks on March 12 when Jeremy Lin blocked his shot and caused his latest injury—a groin injury. "After the game, I remember walking back into the locker room and I told the trainers immediately that I wasn’t feeling right, that my leg was really messed up, he said.
Before that it was his toe and then his back.
It seems like it's that "knee bones connected to the thigh bone" song for Rose, just with different body parts. They're all connected, and because of that, one injury seems to be leading to another.
Deng has a wrist that needs to be operated on, but it's not going to happen now, so he's going to be at less than his best for the rest of the season. Hamilton has too many issues to mention. Every time he's back for a game or two, something else comes up—can you say brittle? Watson is hobbled by an ankle injury and doing his best, but he's not quite himself either.
Are the Bulls going to get healthy enough before the playoffs to compete for a title this year?
A lot of people, this writer included, thought they were short even if everything was hunky-dory.
It's not, and that's a major concern. Chicago still doesn't have that second scorer besides Rose to create his own shot, and who knows how well he's going to be able to perform himself.
You know if he can walk he's going to be out there for the playoffs, but didn't you think he would play last week against Miami? He's missed three straight games and is also out for Monday's game against Orlando (also questionable for Wednesday).
For the season, Rose has played in 34 games. Deng has appeared in 38, Watson in 30 and Hamilton has crawled out of sick bay 16 times.
The Bulls have the best record in the league at 37-10, but if they're still a M.A.S.H. unit come the playoffs, there is cause for great concern. The competition stiffens as you play better teams every night, and they game plan for you.
In a perfect world, the Bulls have a fighting chance to beat Miami assuming they both get that far.
This, however, isn't a perfect world, and with all the injuries, the future is starting to get scarier than summer camp at Crystal Lake for the Bulls—I just haven't figured out if LeBron James or Dwyane Wade is Jason.