NBA Sunday started in Madison Square Garden. Derrick Rose’s return was predicted to be triumphant and Carmelo Anthony was heading into a firestorm against the Chicago Bulls without Jeremy Lin or Amar'e Stoudemire.
It was only perfect that Rose was going to hop into his first game, scraping the Knicks’ chances of climbing up the playoff ladder. Stoudemire may have been dunking pre-game, but there was nothing that was going to toss him back into the pecking order immediately.
Meanwhile, Rose looked on like a shark waiting for the gates to open. Chicago was swarming New York just waiting for tip-off and a chance to prove that they are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, according to Tom Thibodeau’s standards.
Soon after tip-off, Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert showed the Bulls and their visiting fans exactly why that would not happen. Unfortunately for the Bulls, a sense was emerging for both franchises: The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks play better without their stars.
The difference being that the Knicks were playing without theirs and the Bulls were playing with Rose.
The outcome had been decided when Rose stepped onto the court and during the spurts where he was benched, the Bulls fell into a rhythm that had kept them so successful during Rose’s groin injury benching. Rose may have been the highest-scoring Bull with 29 PTS, but he also turned the ball over (8 TO) more than anyone in Chicago’s starting lineup or on the bench.
Not to say that Chicago is immediately in the NBA Finals if Rose is on the bench. However, the fact of the matter is that Rose has interrupted Chicago’s sequence by stumbling back into the lineup without regaining proper momentum.
Shooting 8-of-29 is nothing to be proud of and neither was the illegitimate ball movement the star point guard was facilitating. Never underestimate the importance of being in game shape.
Rose will ultimately regain his composure and become the ball-handling Messiah we all expect him to be. Still, it was inevitable that with the Knicks playing under Coach Mike Woodson and a new outlook on the direction of the franchise, things would not go the Bulls’ way.
Anthony lit Chicago up early (43 PTS) and did not put the brakes on as he thrived in the spotlight, being the only true star on the court as Stoudemire and Lin were benched. ‘Melo was not surprising, because he can live up to the challenge. It is just a little troubling that he can’t do it with Stoudemire or Lin on the floor beside him.
Miami Heat Without Dwyane Wade
Across to the Southeast division of the NBA, the Heat were facing the Detroit Pistons. It was unexpected that the Pistons would do much damage to the Heat, but it may have been hope seeing as how Wade was benched due to a right ankle injury that he sustained after an awkward landing following a missed dunk attempt against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Pistons handled Miami before. However, in that game Austin Daye showed a rare outburst of potential, scoring 26 PTS. Detroit would not get lucky, though, as the Pistons ended the game at a 23-point deficit with LeBron James leading the charge with 26 PTS and only a single turnover.
It was only Detroit, and who’s to say that it was not a stroke of luck and the basketball gods of the scheduling division that gave Miami this win? However, it is good to point out that without Wade in the lineup, the Heat are 10-1.
Therefore, the question must be posed again: Are the Heat a better squad without Wade on the court?
The answer is debatable on either side. One could say that LeBron just feels it more when Wade is on the court or that every man feels a higher sense of responsibility when he is watching on the sidelines. Whatever the case may be, Miami still has some very tough playoffs rotations to figure out that Wade will undoubtedly be a part of.
Hopefully, the Heat are at their best with Wade and not just going through the motions when the postseason comes around.