After the Chicago Bulls fought back to save their season and vanquish the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 of their first-round series, speculation began to run rampant about the potential return of Derrick Rose against the Miami Heat.
Because neither the player nor the organization has gone on the record and ruled Rose out from appearing in the 2013 playoffs, there is still a chance—albeit minuscule—that the 2011 NBA MVP returns to the floor in Round 2.
It’s a possibility that Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra and his players can’t afford to ignore, which is why the Heat seem ready and prepared if D-Rose makes his debut during this series.
ESPN’s Michael Wallace is reporting that while the Heat aren’t bending over backwards to defend themselves against a potential Rose sighting, they are aware of the possibility of his reappearance and are equipped to handle it.
Spoelstra had this to say on the subject after Sunday’s practice, as per Wallace:
We have to prepare for the awareness that he could possibly come back. That's all the thought we're giving it. If he does [return in the series], we'll try to be as aggressive as we normally are.
Rose’s arrival wouldn’t immediately turn the Bulls from a scrappy underdog to a bona fide favorite—especially against Miami—but his presence, especially on the offensive end, makes Chicago much better and a real contender for the title.
Remember, this feisty, defensive-oriented Bulls squad split the regular season series with the Heat and infamously snapped their 27-game winning streak back in March. They managed to win Game 7 in Brooklyn without Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich, arguably the two best perimeter players—after Rose—on the roster.
Anything would be possible with Rose on the court, which is why there is still a glimmer of hope that the 24-year-old superstar will return in the near future. The series against Miami begins on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, so Rose would have to make his decision soon if he wishes to return prior to Game 1.
However, the point guard would be an asset at any juncture in this series and could even return after Game 1 or 2, especially if the Bulls have the lead and he is able to help them close out the Heat—a fitting revenge after the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami is going to be ready and waiting for Rose if he's able to return, though, so it should be an epic clash between one of the best offensive players in the league in Rose and the Heat's top-ranked defensive unit.
This all hinges on Rose feeling 100 percent healthy and mentally ready to return, but the pain of that 2011 series loss should still motivate him and drive him to get back to the court for this series.