Derrick Rose tears ACL

Today is a sad day for Chicago sports fans. Despite winning Game 1 of their series with the 76ers this afternoon, this may just be the most disappointing day that the Bulls franchise has gone through since the breakup of the 199o’s dynasty.

With a little over a minute left in regulation, and the Bulls up by 12 points, Derrick Rose drove to the basket, got himself high up into the air, and dropped a pass off for Carlos Boozer before landing on one foot in serious pain. Rose dropped to the floor holding his left knee and was visibly in severe discomfort. He would remain on the floor for a couple of minutes while the Bulls trainers took a look at his knee. Rose was unable to put any pressure on his left leg while being helped off the floor, which  made it clear to everyone watching that this may be a serious injury.

Well, we now know that Rose suffered a torn ACL on the play and will miss the rest of the season, as well as the Olympics. This is a HUGE loss for the Bulls. Even though this is about the worst possible news to a rabid Bulls fan, I am still trying to look at this situation with an optimistic point of view.

With Rose done for the year, there really aren’t any high expectations for this Bulls team. Yes, we all know that they are still a very good team without Derrick Rose (they proved that this year by going 18-9 without him in the lineup), but let’s be honest. Not many people will be expecting them to advance to the Conference Finals now, and if they do get there, no one will expect them to beat the Heat. Having said that, now is the time for the Rose-less Bulls to go out and prove their critics wrong.

The Bulls will approach the remainder of these playoffs with a chip on their shoulder. They are going to go out there and give everything they’ve got to try and win as many games as possible without Derrick Rose. We will now begin to see just how valuable their depth really is. In the regular season, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III stepped up and really played well in the absence of Derrick Rose. When Richard Hamilton got healthy at the the end of the year, he stepped up his game while Rose was still trying to find his own rhythm. The Rose-less Bulls won a number of big games this year, which will no doubt give them confidence moving forward.

Here’s my prediction. The Bulls will eliminate the 76ers in 6 games. In the second round, odds are that they will meet the Boston Celtics. Boston has come on really strong since the all-star break, but they are beatable. I say the Bulls take that series to 7 games with a decent chance of winning it because of the strength of their bench. If they do get by the Celtics, then that’s where I have to draw the line. I don’t see them being able to take out the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals.

This is going to be the toughest test of the year for the Bulls, but if there is one team who could overcome this adversity, it is this team.   They have as much, if not more heart than any other team in the league. If you look back at the blog I wrote about the Bulls earlier in the year when I talked about them being a “true team,” this is when being a true team really becomes important.

Take a “glass half full” approach on this situation, Bulls fans. It’s the best way to handle the adversity.

Thanks for reading.

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Bulls Are A True Team

This entire season for the Bulls has been plagued by injuries to some of their biggest key players. If you were to look at their record, however, you would never know it.

Richard Hamilton has missed 32 games, Derrick Rose has missed 14, and Luol Deng has missed 9. Yet, the Bulls still have the NBA’s best overall record at 38-10. They are the definition of a true team.

In Hamilton’s place, Ronnie Brewer has done more than step up his game. He has become one of the best defensive players in the league, while also greatly improving his offensive game. His confidence has sky-rocketed this season on the offensive end, and it is very noticeable every time he handles the ball. He is simply no longer afraid to drive to the hoop or take a shot.

When Luol Deng has missed games due to his wrist injury, once again Ronnie Brewer has been the man to take his place at small forward. Moving into Brewer’s place at shooting guard with Deng and Hamilton out of the lineup has been Kyle Korver. While Korver has been a bit of a streaky shooter at times, he has still been consistently finding ways to get his job done. Even Korver, an offensive player, has really stepped up his defensive game this year.

Taking the place of Derrick Rose lately has been a combination of C.J. Watson and John Lucas. I don’t think the Bulls could be any happier with the way these two have played in Rose’s absence, especially Lucas. Last week when the Bulls took on the Heat at the United Center without Rose in the lineup, Watson and Lucas combined to score 35 points, with Lucas scoring 24. The Bulls won that game 106-102. Without the MVP in their lineup, the Bulls have won some big games and have now improved their record to 10-4 with tonight’s win in Orlando.

The Bulls ran away with tonight’s game by destroying the Magic 85-59, again without Rose. I posted a blog a before the NBA trade deadline saying that the Bulls shouldn’t trade for Dwight Howard, and this is why. Even without their best player in Derrick Rose, the Bulls have been able to get some huge victories. They have gotten these wins because of the depth of their team and the all around contributions from every player on their roster. Every player on the Bulls understands their role on the team, whether it’s to play top-notch defense (which is the case for most of the guys), or provide scoring on the offensive end. They outwork, out-hustle, out-rebound, and even more importantly, play better as an entire team than any other franchise in the NBA. The Bulls are the epitome of a true team.

Much, if not all of this credit, should be given to head coach Tom Thibodeau. He has gotten every one of his players to believe in his system and philosophies. Even with all of the injuries that have been suffered this year by the Bulls, Thibodeau has kept his team together and gotten them to give their best effort night in and night out. He won the Coach of the Year Award last year, and should win it again this year. However, the NBA doesn’t like to hand out one award to the same person two years in a row.

From Watson to Lucas, Brewer to Korver, Gibson to Asik, as well as the rest of the Bulls roster, each player is doing their job, and doing it well. The Bulls have the best record in the NBA not just because they also have the league’s best point guard, but because they are the best team in basketball.

Thanks for reading.

Bulls Suffer Rare Defeat At Home

The Bulls came into tonight’s game against the Magic riding an 8-game winning streak, and fresh off a thrilling win at the buzzer in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. My worry coming into tonight’s game was that the Bulls wouldn’t have enough gas left in their tank to play a full 48 minutes.

Well, my worry became reality. The Bulls suffered a tough 99-94 loss on their home court tonight; only their third loss at home this season.

The Magic came out scoring at will in the first quarter, shooting 75 percent from the field. The Bulls, on the other hand, did not shoot that well at all. Orlando jumped out to an 18 point lead at one point, and it looked as though this game was going to be a blow out.

Late in the second quarter, the Bulls finally found their touch. Kyle Korver scored 7 straight points for the Bulls to ignite the team and the fans. With about 25 seconds left in the first half, Luol Deng drained a big 3 pointer to cut the Bulls deficit to 8 points. Moments later, the Bulls forced a turnover, and Derrick Rose ran up the floor and nailed another 3 at the buzzer.

The second half, for the most part, was a back-and-forth trading of baskets between the Bulls and Magic. The Bulls, however, could never take more than a one point lead in the game.

Late in the fourth quarter, Kyle Korver found himself with at least three, if not four, wide open 3-pointers. He missed them all.

Then, with about 20 seconds left in the game, Derrick Rose had a chance to make it a 3-point game with 2 free throws. He made the first and missed the second, leaving the Bulls down by 4 with just under 20 seconds left. The Magic wound up making their free throws to seal the win after being intentionally fouled by the Bulls.

Fatigue definitely played a roll in the Bulls losing this game, but you still have to make the wide-open shots that you are given. That, along with the number of offensive rebounds by the Magic, were the two biggest areas that the Bulls needed to better at tonight in order to get the win.

Next week, the Bulls will play back-to-back games against the Knicks and Heat on Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s hope that they will be less fatigued heading into those two marquee matchups.

Rose Showing Signs of Jordan

I was unable to watch the second half of tonight’s Bulls game against the Bucks, but I have been watching the highlights now for the past half hour. Derrick Rose is a beast. It’s that simple. He continued making his case for winning a second straight MVP award after turning in an unforgettable performance tonight in which he finished with 30 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds.

In what was a back-and-forth game between the Bucks and Bulls, Derrick Rose stepped up yet again when the Bulls needed him most. After seemingly trading baskets with the Bucks in the last minute and a half of the game, Derrick Rose found himself with the ball in his hands for the last shot of the game with the score tied at 104.

The shot-clock had been turned off when Derrick Rose dribbled up the floor to try and finish off the Bucks, once and for all. For an unknown reason to me, the Bucks decided not to double-team Rose as he dribbled along the perimeter waiting for the right moment to make his move. Instead, Brandon Jennings was left to guard Rose one-on-one. This had been a big mismatch all night in favor of Derrick Rose. (Of course, there aren’t a whole lot of guys who can guard Rose without it being a complete mismatch. The only ones who can effectively guard him are Lebron James and maybe a healthy Kobe Bryant.)

Rose faked a drive to the basket, stepped back, and nailed a long two-pointer from about two feet inside the 3-point line as the buzzer went off. The entire Bulls team proceeded mob him at half court as the predominantly pro-Bulls crowd went nuts in the stands.

Derrick Rose continues to hit big shots in the clutch without hesitation. We’ve seen him hit two games winners at the buzzer now this year. The first one coming in the opening game of the season at the Lakers (technically this wasn’t at the buzzer, but only tenths of a second were left of the clock), and the second one tonight.

Obviously Derrick Rose has a long way to go to ever be compared to Michael Jordan, but he is well on his way in terms of the way he performs in the clutch. Both Jordan and Rose had/have that “killer instinct” inside of them that opponents fear with their life. Rose is not afraid to take big shots, and he is continuing to prove that to the world.

All the MVP talk this year has made it sound like Lebron is the clear-cut front-runner to win the award, but if Rose continues to play like he has been of late, he may just win his second straight MVP. Only time will tell.

You can watch Rose’s shot here: Rose Buzzer Beater

Thanks for reading.

Bulls Get Statement Win

As I said in my earlier blog, the Bulls wanted nothing more than to get a win tonight against the Pacers as revenge for what happened the last time these 2 teams met. Well, that’s exactly what they did.

The Bulls cruised to a 92-72 win tonight over Indiana in what seemed to be a statement game for the Bulls. With Indiana entering the game on a 6-game winning streak, the Bulls wanted to make sure that they made it clear who the top team is in the Central Division. After a bit of a sloppy first half for the Bulls, they were able to take over in the second half and blow out the Pacers by 20 points. Luol Deng led the way for the Bulls with 20 points, while Joakim Noah added 9 points and 17 rebounds. In what I thought might be one of Derrick Rose’s best games of the year, he only managed to score 13 points, but did add 9 assists. With that said, Rose did sit the entire 4th quarter. His replacement, John Lucas, finished off the game with 13 important points off the bench.

This was the Bulls’ 7th win in a row, and their second in as many nights. The Bulls are on a tear right now and are showing no signs of slowing down. They lead the entire NBA with 32 wins, and are ahead of the Heat by 2.5 games for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls next 8 games, however, are not going to be easy ones. In those 8 games, they play the Magic twice (March 8th and 19th), the Knicks (March 12th), the Heat (March 14th), the Trail Blazers (March 16th), and the 76ers (March 17th). This will be a tough stretch for the Bulls, and it will also tell us a lot more about what areas of their game they need to work on when playing some of the top teams in the league (specifically Miami).

As a side note, Richard Hamilton left tonight’s game early in the first quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. The Bulls need him to stay healthy from here on out, especially during the playoffs.

Rose Looking For Revenge

Tonight is the first meeting between the Bulls and Pacers since Indiana beat the Bulls in Chicago 95-90 in late January. It was after that game that Derrick Rose said he would not forget the way the Pacers acted after winning.

As the final buzzer rang to end the game, the Pacers’ players and coaches began jumping around like they had just won a playoff series. What they had done was hand the Bulls their first home loss of the season, which is a nice accomplishment, but not worthy of a playoff-type celebration. Immediately following the game, Derrick Rose stated that he could not wait to play the Pacers again and that he would be seeking revenge for not just the loss, but for the actions of the Pacers. If there is one thing you should never do to a star and dominant athlete, it’s to never make them angry.

Aside from the incidents that took place the last time these two teams met, the biggest story heading into tonight’s game has to be that both teams are currently in the middle of 6-game winning streaks. The Bulls and Pacers are arguably playing their best basketball of the year right now with the Bulls sitting in the number 1 spot in the East, and the Pacers in the number 3 spot. With that said, tonight’s game is going to prove to be a huge measuring stick for the Pacers. They will find out just how close they are to being able to play with arguably the toughest team in the NBA. As for the Bulls, they need to prove to themselves tonight that they can beat the Pacers without much of a problem. After the way that Indiana stuck with the Bulls in just about every game during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last year, my guess is that the Bulls are at least a little worried about playing them again. The fact is, however, that the Bulls are a much better team than the Pacers, and like I said, they need to prove this to themselves with a big win tonight.

It is going to be an intense and emotional game tonight for the players on both teams, especially Derrick Rose. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up one of his best games of the year tonight after the comments that he made following the last meeting between these teams. I know one thing is for sure, and that is that I’ll be glued to the TV from 7:00-9:30 tonight.

For anyone wondering, the game is on WGN and it starts at 7:00.

Howard to the Bulls? I say no

Ever since Dwight Howard made it public that he would like to be traded away from Orlando, just about every Bulls fan has contemplated as to whether or not the Bulls should make a strong push for him at the trade deadline. Orlando has made it clear that if they are going to trade their all-star center, they want a lot in return. After listening to many NBA analysts on ESPN and TNT, it has become clear to me that the Bulls would have to trade away too much for Howard.

The reason that the Bulls are among the league’s best teams right now is because of their depth. When everyone is healthy, their starting lineup looks like this: F Carlos Boozer, F Luol Deng, C Joakim Noah, G Richard Hamilton, and G Derrick Rose. Rose and Deng both made the all-star game this year. On the bench, they have Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Jimmy Butler, Brian Scalabrine, and John Lucas III. For those who watch the Bulls on a regular basis, you know just how valuable each bench player is to this team. Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, and possibly Omer Asik could be starting on some other teams in the NBA right now. When talking about a possible trade for Dwight Howard, it seems as though the Bulls would have to trade away Noah and Deng for sure, and either Gibson, Watson, Asik, or Brewer as a 3rd player. Possibly even two of them. To me, that seems like it would destroy the strength of this team; their depth. Think about it. Derrick Rose, the best point guard in the NBA, has missed 10 games so far this season, and yet the Bulls still have a record of 29-8 after last night’s big win in San Antonio. The reason that they were able to continue winning with Rose out of the lineup is because of their bench. If you trade away Noah, Deng, and Gibson/ Asik/Watson/Brewer, you’re not only losing an all-star, but also most likely 2 of the most valuable bench players in the league. With all that said, having Dwight Howard in your starting lineup is never a bad thing.

If the Bulls were to give up enough to get Dwight Howard, then their starting 5 could compete with any other team in the league without a problem (yes, I am including the Heat). Howard is dominant force down low that no one in the NBA can seemingly contain. His addition to the Bulls would be huge in terms of their starting 5. However, once the Bulls would start to bring in their bench players, all of a sudden they are without possibly Gibson, Brewer, Watson, or Asik. Like I said before, maybe even 2 of them. To me, it just doesn’t seem quite worth making the trade. I don’t think the Bulls can afford to lose Deng and 2 of their top bench players (I’m not mentioning Noah because he would obviously be replaced by Howard).

Assuming that the Bulls don’t make this trade, they will be heading into the playoffs as a top 2 seed in the East with arguably the deepest bench in the entire NBA. Odds are that they will meet up with the Heat again in the Conference Finals, with the assumption that neither team gets upset in the early rounds. As we all know, Richard Hamilton was brought in as another scoring option to help relieve Derrick Rose (let’s not kid ourselves either, this move was made specifically to try and beat the Heat). Hopefully his presence on the floor will be good enough to get by Miami this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

What are your thoughts on a possible Dwight Howard trade?