Fortune is indeed a fickle mistress.
With the reigning MVP officially done in the 2012 playoffs, the Eastern Conference playoff picture has changed dramatically.
The big question weighing on the City of Broad Shoulders is what can realistically be expected from the Bulls now?
Over the course of this season, Chicago has played 27 games without Rose compiling an 18-9 record in those contests.
That tidbit bodes well for the postseason as the Bulls will not be wading through uncharted territory, but even with the experience of playing without their superstar, can the Bulls still be considered contenders?
The performance level needed to thrive in the playoffs is light years beyond what is needed to win in the regular season, so playing without Rose now is new ball game for Chicago.
As far as the first round goes, the only thing the Rose injury means is that it may take six games to dispose of the 76ers.
Regardless of how Philadelphia may respond with lineup variations to maximize their scoring potential, Chicago is deep enough to respond accordingly.
The plain truth is the Sixers are neither deep enough nor efficient enough to contend with the Bulls, even without Rose, over seven games, so Bulls fans can at least expect Chicago to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
While winning a playoff series without your superstar is no small feat, winning two is a tall order.
Despite being an aging team, the Celtics are playoff tested and have enough savvy to exploit a Chicago team without its main playmaker.
Without a Rose to offset a Rondo, the Bulls would find themselves in a spot where they would have to play intensely smothering defense and have 20 point efforts from Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton on a nightly basis.
If those two things occur, then the Bulls would have a shot at besting Boston but at the expense of their endurance as the series would surely be long and grueling.
This would place the Bulls in a likely Eastern Conference Finals rematch against the Miami Heat.
There is no need to speculate on this series.
Without Derrick Rose on the court to play at a high level and elevate his teammates’ performances, there is no way Chicago makes it past Miami.
As a matter of fact, too many things would have to fall into place for Chicago to even reach the conference finals again.
The bitter reality of all of this is that Chicago is a great team with Rose and an okay team without him; okay teams do not make deep playoffs runs and that dooms the Bulls to a second round exit this year.
Certainly, there are Bulls’ fans all over trying to keep hope alive, and while it’s good to remain loyal to a team, it’s delusional to think that NBA championship hopes are still alive and kicking in Chi-Town.
When Rose crumbled to the floor of the United Center, the possibility of title number seven was sucked out of the building along with every fan's breath in attendance.
Fans should just enjoy the remainder of the playoffs for what they are and adopt the mantra of their baseball brethren of Chicago’s north side: Wait ‘til next year.
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