How the Chicago Bulls Can Compete in the Playoffs Without Derrick Rose
With each passing day, it seems to be less and less likely that Derrick Rose will step back onto the court for a regular-season game.
It doesn't mean that he'll be completely out for the playoffs as well, but it's difficult to see Rose check into the game and make an impact immediately without being in game shape. The Chicago Bulls might have to roll into the playoffs with the roster they currently have and the players that will be suited up.
Although the loss of Rose has severely crippled the effectiveness of the Bulls offense, they haven't missed a beat on the boards.
Carlos Boozer hasn't lived up to expectations since arriving in Chicago and has his share of inconsistencies on offense, but he's still a very effective rebounder. Joakim Noah has also been one of the better rebounders in the league for the past several seasons.
The Bulls' stellar work on the glass wouldn't really help against the likes of the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, the two leading teams in rebounding rate this season (per Hollinger's Team Stats). But it does give them an advantage against the likes of the Miami Heat and New York Knicks—both of which are in the bottom 15 in rebounding rate this season.
If the Bulls want to compete against the Eastern Conference elite, they will need to take full advantage of their ability to rebound to give themselves easy second-chance points and stop multiple possessions from the opponent.
Nate Robinson and "consistency" are two terms that shouldn't go together, but he's been the Bulls' best scorer for most of the season. In fact, Robinson is probably the only player on the entire team who could create his own offense out of scratch.
Boozer is known for his offense, but his playoff performances for the last two seasons have been terrible.
As a team, the Bulls are 29th in the league in points per game, 29th in effective field-goal percentage and 26th in shooting percentage (per Team Rankings).
It's not like the arrival of the postseason will completely turn around the Bulls' efficiency on offense, but they will need to rely on their key offensive contributors to produce on a daily basis. They cannot win a playoff series with inconsistent offensive games.
If the Bulls can get quality scoring from Boozer and Robinson, they have a chance to defeat any team in the league.
Play with Heart
A Rose-less Bulls team will be the underdogs, no matter which team they are set to face in the postseason.
If there's one thing we learned from the Bulls this season, it's that they will work and compete in every game, no matter who the opponent is.
In the past month, the Bulls have snapped both the Heat's 27-game winning streak and the Knicks' 13-game winning streak.
When something is on the line, the Bulls prove that they can compete with the best of the best in the Eastern Conference. Every player elevated their game to a whole new level, and that's the same type of spirit they need in order to endure a long playoff run.
The Bulls aren't expected to do anything this year. This season has basically been a "wash," as Rose's return headlined the entire season. They have nothing to lose, and that's why they will catch their opponents off guard in the playoffs.