Derrick Rose Doesn't Need to Return for Chicago Bulls to Make a Deep Playoff Run

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IMarch 28, 2013

The Bulls continue to press onward toward the postseason.
The Bulls continue to press onward toward the postseason.Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

No Derrick Rose, no problem.

The Chicago Bulls still managed to end LeBron James and the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak on Wednesday night, 101-97.

In a nutshell, this game proved the epitome of Chicago's 2012-13 potential.

Carlos Boozer recorded 17 rebounds, which was more than 50 percent of Miami's total (31). And this was huge, because there were other key players out for this heavyweight fight as Jon Greenberg of wrote:

With the Bulls missing Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli, along with DL regular Rip Hamilton and, of course, Rose, it certainly looked as if the Heat's run would continue for another game.

The national media came to watch the Heat roll over the injury-riddled Bulls.

The Bulls also got five-plus assists dished out from Kirk Hinrich (six), Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng.

No one on the Heat had more than four (Mario Chalmers).

As for Rose, his patience remains according to Doug Padilla of

Rose still doesn't know if he'll return this season.

"Same, just taking my time and that's about it," Rose, who had ACL surgery May 12, said when asked for an update on his health. "Been the same way for a couple of months now."

Rose has been medically cleared to play, a source told on March 7, but he still wasn't confident dunking off his left leg. He has been scrimmaging 5-on-5 since Feb. 18.

All season long the Bulls have been in the postseason mix, but from the beginning of February through March 21 they sported a disappointing 8-14 record. Clearly the hope of Rose getting back on the floor was increasing, because Chicago was inconsistent defensively and not improving offensively.

Wednesday's victory, though, gave the Bulls a three-game win streak and improved their record to 39-31.

For a second consecutive game, coach Tom Thibodeau's team put up over 100 points, which marks the first time Chicago has won consecutive games by hitting triple digits since the middle of January: Two straight overtime wins over the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics.

Once April tips off, Chicago will be sporting a winning record this season over the Heat (2-1), New York Knicks (3-0), Brooklyn Nets (2-1) and the Atlanta Hawks (2-1).

Now sitting just five games back of the Indiana Pacers in the Central Division with 12 games left, the Bulls are in a prime position for a higher playoff seed than anticipated. And what make Thibodeau's crew dangerous are the collective abilities to rebound, share the rock and suffocate defensively.

To enhance postseason odds, though, Chicago must get to the free-throw line more.

Ranking No. 23 in free-throw attempts per game (21), the Bulls are No. 6 in this percentage (78.3). So, drawing fouls more will simply complement their stellar defense, physical play and provide the opportunity to match pace with any explosive opponent.

Riding an impressive streak with a postseason spot clinched, Chicago is peaking right on cue.