It is right to criticize Tom Thibodeau for Derrick Rose's most recent injury. The injury occurred with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter, with the Bulls up 12 against the Philadelphia 76ers, in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series.
Is that an insurmountable lead?
No, but if you watched the game, you know the result was not in serious jeopardy.
So why was the reigning MVP, who has missed 26 games this season due to various injuries on the floor?
We'll have to ask Thibodeau that—and believe me, the question will be asked by the first media person who has a chance at the post-game press conference.
It'll also be asked by a huge percentage of fans. It may even be asked by players (but they will, of course, keep it to themselves).
Thibs is a great coach and without him the Bulls would not have had the best record in the NBA for two years in a row. But his biggest weakness is his stubbornness.
Thibs believes in going all out, being no respect of persons, treating the 12th man like the star. That's a beautiful concept, but in NBA reality, it doesn't make sense.
Thibs has been known to leave starters in to the final buzzer—even when the result was not in question. That was the situation here, but Thibs should have treated this scenario differently.
Rose is clearly the key to the Bulls' chances of reaching the NBA Finals and winning a championship.
Without him, the attempt is futile.
People can point to the 17-9 record in his stead during the regular season, but in reality, they aren't serious contenders without their best player.
This entire season and playoffs has been about reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, defeating the Miami Heat and winning a championship. Anything less than that is a failure.
The Bulls are not an up-and-coming team anymore. There are no more moral victories. There are no more lessons to teach about giving strong and spirited effort.
Thibodeau has failed to come out of that mindset. He is the head coach of a team that has as good a shot, as any team in the NBA to win it all. He has a responsibility to protect the assets that make the Bulls an elite team.
No player is a bigger asset than Derrick Rose, and on Saturday afternoon, Thibs didn't protect him.
If Rose is lost for the playoffs—which we all hope he isn't—this great season is a failure.
Because the Bulls will not beat Miami without him. They may not even beat Boston (their likely second round foe) without him either.
We don't know what the doctors will say about Rose's knee, but I do know he shouldn't have been on the floor at that time.
By failing to recognize and alter his potentially self-destructive substitution tendencies, Thibs could have cost his team a chance to gain the ultimate prize.
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