Derrick Rose Injured
Derrick Rose will miss the rest of the NBA Playoffs with a torn ACL, which occurred in the waning moments of the Chicago Bulls' victory over the 76ers Saturday. The Bulls took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals but at a great cost, losing the reigning MVP.
Predicted to challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and compete for an NBA championship, the Bulls' title hopes have taken a serious hit with the loss of their All-Star point guard. While many think the Bulls' playoff run ends with Rose's injury, Chicago will have a chance to compete if they follow these five steps.
When you lose your star player, your first inclination is to throw in the towel. Having lost their star multiple times to four separate injuries this season, the Chicago Bulls are old hats at this and know how to keep calm and carry on.
In order to make a deep run in the playoffs, the Bulls will need to play with poise and calm without their fearless leader. C.J. Watson will need to resume the role he has become accustomed to this season, and John Lucas III will have to make the most of the minutes he receives.
Korver for Three
The Chicago Bulls have developed an offense that plays to their strengths with a lot of high pick-and-rolls. With Watson and Lucas III running the point, the pick-and-roll isn't as effective, so the Bulls will need to adjust.
The Bulls' greatest assets now are their shooters and their big men.
With Kyle Korver shooting 43.5 percent from three-point, Watson and Lucas shooting 39.3 percent, Richard Hamilton shooting 37.0 percent and Luol Deng shooting 36.7 percent, the Bulls can pour it in from outside. The Bulls need to use their outside shooting to negate their lack of slashing ability.
The Bulls will also need an increase in production from Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. In the Bulls' offense with Rose, shooters get open off of Rose's slashing ability; in the Bulls' offense without Rose, the Bulls' big men will need to produce in order to draw defensive help and open up shooters.
Tom Thibodeau Being Thibs
Last season, Chicago Bulls fans questioned why Tom Thibodeau ran his players ragged. This season, Bulls fans questioned the logic of over-utilizing Deng, especially after he tore a ligament in his left wrist. Even Jerry Reinsdorf wondered if Rose should be playing so much down the stretch.
With Rose getting injured in the last couple minutes of a game that was well in hand, fans and analysts are all over Thibodeau for not resting his star player with the game safely won.
If the Bulls are going to make a run without Rose, it's going to be as a result of Thibodeau's leadership. Thibodeau's players have already stood behind him in comments made after the game, but now management needs to publicly support his coaching decisions.
Thibodeau will be in fans' cross-hairs, but with the support he has from his players and if management stands behind him, Thibodeau will be just fine and at the top of his game leading the Bulls.
The Chicago Bulls got to the top spot in the East by playing the best defense in the league. With Rose out with injuries, the Bulls were still able to play the same brand of defense they were playing with him.
Reeling from the loss of their on-court leader, the Bulls need to cling to consistency with their defense. Watson, Lucas III and Mike James may not be able to provide the offense that Rose did, but they can play with the same level of heart and defensive intensity.
The margin of error for the Bulls narrowed considerably with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, and now their defense must step up. The Bulls allowed only 88.2 points per game during the regular season and they have enough firepower without Rose to score at least 89 points per game.
Watson, Starting Again
Rose is out, but will continue to be the topic of conversation for the remainder of the Chicago Bulls' playoff run. "Would the Bulls have lost if Rose were playing?" "The Bulls miss Rose's explosiveness." "Watson/Lucas III just can't do it like Rose."
For the Bulls to make a deep run in the playoffs, they must not question their backups. The players, management and coach Tom Thibodeau must be behind their point guards 100 percent.
Watson isn't Rose, but he has started in the league and is a better outside shooter than Rose.
Lucas III isn't Rose, but he has the most heart of any of the Bulls' point guards and is won't hesitate to try and get his shot—much to the benefit of his team.
James isn't Rose, but he is a big strong guard who is capable of roughing up an opposing point guard.
All of these men are able to distribute the ball and call out offensive sets, which is exactly what the Bulls need from their point guards who aren't Rose. As the Stephen Stills song goes, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
Whether they like it or not, the Bulls aren't going to win a championship with Rose this season. But, if they play their cards exactly right, they may just be able to pull off winning a championship without him.