The 2013 NBA playoffs have been highlighted by stunning upsets, devastating injuries and the painstaking anticipation of Derrick Rose's potential return. Even as uncertainty mounts and doubt rises surrounding D-Rose's comeback, we can't help but ask.
What would Rose's return mean for the Bulls?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Rose has already made a decision and will not return until the 2013-14 regular season. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com reported that Rose could suit up for Game 3, but he proceeded to miss that game, as well.
Regardless of when it happens, we'd be remiss to ignore the if factor.
If the injury-depleted Bulls have shown us anything thus far, it's that they're more than capable of winning with their current lineup.
Chicago has been playing without Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, defeating the favored Brooklyn Nets in seven games.
With that being said, the world isn't anticipating Rose's return because he's a fan favorite—it's because he's a former league MVP.
Would he be able to re-discover that form?
Addressing the Minutes
If Derrick Rose were to return, the general public would hold out hope that he could return to MVP form. The truth of the matter is, the odds are stacked against Rose to reach that level during a postseason series.
How many minutes should Derrick Rose play if he returns?
Being healthy and being in postseason shape are two completely different things.
Chances are, Rose would see fewer than 15 minutes in his first game back in the rotation. Not only would he be limited in mobility, but because the Heat play at a rampant pace, this would also force him to get up and down the court in a hurry.
He may be an elite athlete, but he hasn't played in an NBA game in more than a calendar year.
Rose could play his way into heavier minutes, but in terms of his immediate impact, there would be a strict limit. With that being said, the impact would go well beyond what he does individually.
It would be about creating necessary depth.
Derrick Rose's absence is about the last thing on the mind of the Chicago Bulls, as they have more significant holes. Those, of course, come as a result of Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng missing extended periods of time.
In turn, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler are all seeing more than 40 minutes per night.
They may be capable of handling the load, but Rose's presence would create a temporary period of rest for at least one of those players. If Hinrich were to return with him, that could create time for Chicago's backcourt to get a rare breather.
As for why that matters, it's those three that have carried Chicago through the fourth quarter of games.
On tired legs against a superior Heat team, Chicago has all but no hope. With their clutch performers rested, however, Miami will tell you first-hand how dangerous they can be.
It may sound underwhelming, but Rose is needed as a role player to provide the healthy performers a rest.
If there's one thing we know about the 2013 Bulls, it's that they've solidified their status as a team of emotion. Not only have they pulled off an unbelievable upset of the Brooklyn Nets, but they've also already won a game against the defending champion Heat.
If it's possible, Derrick Rose's return would offer even more of an emotional boost.
Even with Rose, the only way the Bulls could upset the Heat in this series is with something more than an inspired performance. While the emotion is clearly there, they simply haven't been able to close out games.
With that being said, they've won a game already and were tied with the Heat entering the fourth quarter of Game 3.
With Rose back in the rotation, the emotional lift would be there for a powerful fourth-quarter run. Whether he was on the floor or not, having their leader to guide them through late-game situations is an invaluable advantage for the Bulls.
Even if he weren't on the floor, showing up in a jersey would do wonders for his team's fourth-quarter emotion—just ask David Lee and the Golden State Warriors.