Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Central Division should be a war between the Bulls and Indiana Pacers.
The rivalry between these two clubs isn't overly magnified, but it definitely exists. They're both gritty, defensive-minded and possess swagger.
Plus, could they potentially both have a subtle disregard for each other, thinking that the only barrier to the NBA Finals is the Heat? Could they be quietly overlooking one another?
It's certainly possible.
From Indiana's perspective, they can highlight Chicago's irrelevancy in the past two playoffs, detailing how they're rarely healthy.
From the Bulls standpoint, there's convincing reason to believe that if Rose is active, they're assuredly better than the Pacers (simply consider Chicago's league-best winning percentage during 2010-11 and 2011-12, when Rose was typically healthy).
The arguments are valid on both sides, and it's a recipe for conflict, assuming there are such under-the-radar sentiments.
At any rate, the tension should reach new heights as these squads compete for the division crown. When they meet on Wednesday, November 6 (on ESPN), Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will be hyped.
Rose's reinsertion into Chicago's lineup ultimately gives this meeting a completely different feel. They are so similar at other positions, but Rose provides Chicago with a distinct advantage over George Hill at point guard.
They both bolster a defensive identity and should be exhibiting playoff-like tenacity, so the final score of this game could realistically be 83-78. It should be ripe with contested shots and plenty of rebounds.
The Bulls will have their hands full in this one (the Pacers were 30-11 at home during 2012-13), but Chicago does have three days off prior to this meeting. The Pacers, on the other hand, play the night before against the Detroit Pistons.
Coach Thibodeau's extra time to prepare coupled with Rose's determination to prove his worth against this foe should result in a big win for the Bulls. This would successfully cap off a challenging initial stretch for Rose and company.