Derrick Rose wasn't going to save the Chicago Bulls from the steamroller known as the Miami Heat. Even an MVP-caliber player like the Bulls point guard can't be expected to return from a year on the sidelines to shine against the NBA's best team.
Talk about Rose making his triumphant comeback, a cloud hanging over the team for months, reached a fever pitch after the Bulls won Game 1 in Miami.
It didn't happen.
He has remained out of action while the team proceeded to lose three straight games, two in blowout fashion.
Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago reported before Game 4 a decision was already made that Rose wouldn't return in the second-round series.
Despite erroneous reports that he was set to dress for Game 3, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, the former league MVP won't return to the court in the series, something Thibodeau is aware of.
However, at the outset of the second round, Rose did strongly consider coming back, but ultimately decided against it, another source said.
It was the right decision. Only Rose understands his body, which explains why he hasn't played a single minute despite reports he was medically cleared to return in early March (via ESPN).
If Rose plays in the series, which team wins?
If Rose believes he's not ready to play, nobody can tell him otherwise. Playing without complete confidence his knee would hold up would be a major mistake, and the last thing he needs after being cautious throughout the process is a setback.
Those relentlessly on his case about not playing should realize the chances of the Bulls upsetting the Heat were microscopic to begin with, even if Rose returned.
Real life isn't like a video game. Just because Rose is medically considered "healthy" doesn't mean he would step onto the court in top form. He would be just beginning the process of getting back to an elite level and that's going to take time, whenever it happens.
Furthermore, trying to start that comeback in the middle of a playoff series would be an incredibly difficult task against any team, let alone the defending champion Heat.
Add in the fact the Bulls are already working without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, who are both listed as questionable for Game 5 (via USA Today), and Chicago was doomed from the outset barring a miracle.
Their win in Game 1 was a wake-up call the Heat clearly received. Miami has been dominant ever since, and returning Rose wouldn't have changed the direction of the series.
If he decided to play, the Heat would have put relentless defensive pressure on him for every second he was on the court to test the knee. That's not an ideal scenario for somebody who's clearly still waiting for the confidence tank to refill.
There's absolutely no reason to bring him back for Game 5 or beyond. The best decision throughout the process has been waiting until next season and that hasn't changed.
With a completely healthy roster and a supremely confident Rose, the Bulls would have a chance to give the Heat a serious run. Winning Game 1 with what amounts to depth and role players showed the secondary talent on the roster, but it was never going to hold up over a seven-game series.
Adding Rose to the squad wouldn't have changed anything.