Last night Derrick Rose did what he does best, return from an injury to managed minutes with signs of life. Rose scored 9 points in 19 minutes and sat out the entire fourth quarter watching the Bulls squander a lead in Orlando losing 105-103. Rose was 1-6 from behind the three point but Coach Thibs did like the spurts of aggressiveness Rose displayed at times on the court.
Now while it’s difficult to gauge from this small sample as to how Rose will perform in the playoffs in a couple of weeks from now. What is certain is that adding Rose to the lineup will give the Bulls that added scoring punch they so desperately needed after he went down. The Bulls could again be looking at another matchup with the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. Last year the Bulls were dominated inside by Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario, while also having no answer for the backcourt combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal. This year the Wizards have added veteran Paul Pierce to the mix and the rest of the lineup is in tact from last years 4-1 series win over Chicago, a series in which the Bulls had home-court advantage. In that series the Bulls’ offense struggled mightily without Rose scoring one-hundred points only once. In addition the notably stingy defense was exposed badly in a series when they should have had a distinct advantage.
The biggest issue about Rose isn’t just about him being able to return from the injury (The Bulls have played more games without him since this trend began several years ago), it’s about his ability to return to full strength before the start of the playoffs. If Rose can ramp up his minutes to nearly a full game before the end of the regular season that could give the team a huge boost going into the opening round. A fully capable Derrick Rose again makes them a competitor in the Eastern Conference. Rose allows everyone else on the team to get easier looks while allowing for the bench to play a bigger role with less stress.
The Bulls lost so badly in the first round last year not just because of Rose’s absence but also because they couldn’t stop Gortat. If they can score more points, they’d have the ability to offset the the backcourt hardship against Beal and Wall. Gortat becomes a more manageable foe if Rose and Wall are offsetting each other on a nightly basis, if not then Gortat’s nightly double-double is much more difficult because of how badly Chicago is being outscored in the backcourt.
Here’s to hoping Derrick can get himself game ready before the start of the playoffs and give the Chicago Bulls fan base a better showing than last year’s bad first round exit at the hands of this year’s likely first round opponent.