How far can Bulls go without Derrick Rose?
I'm looking forward to our little chats here during the playoffs. I hope to shed some insight and a little knowledge of the game of basketball.
As a former athlete, let me start by saying (only to get it out of the way):
"I was misquoted, it was taken out of context."
There, I feel better now.
Oh wait, there's one more:
"My editors changed it."
Ah, no pressure now.
Let's get to the questions and start with the obvious after the Bulls won their first game 103–91 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
Q. With the loss of Derrick Rose due to a torn ACL (out for the remainder of the playoffs), how far can the Bulls go?
A. Of course things just got more difficult. Not to over simplify it, but if the Bulls had to play at 90 percent of their full potential every game with Derrick in the lineup to win the NBA championship, they now have to play at 97 percent of their full potential every game.
This season without Derrick the Bulls have had spurts in games where they do not score a field goal for extended times, sometimes lasting seven-plus minutes. They are going to have to find a way to limit those occurrences and put points on the scoreboard.
Getting to the foul line and attacking the basket have traditionally been two ways for players to put points on the board when they are not shooting the ball well. Making foul shots builds your confidence and helps enable you to start making the shots you were missing earlier in the game.
Just like this team feeds off Joakim Noah's energy, it can feed off a teammate who is putting points on the board when things are not going well offensively.
Q. What will the Bulls have to do well to win without Rose?
A. Defensively, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Mike James are going to have to occupy and challenge their counterparts to keep them honest defensively so they cannot slough off and help out on other players.
Offensively they need to work the Sixers guards so they don't have the energy to take over games in the fourth quarter.
Q. Any personal experience with ACL injuries — yourself, friends, teammates?
A. As far as Derrick's injury goes, I personally do not have any experience with a torn ACL, nor have I had teammates with one. I do not want to say it's a common injury, but if you are a sports fan, you have at least heard the term ACL before.
There has been this type of injury in many sports with many different results, from partial to full recovery. Knowing Derrick and his work ethic, along with his competitive edge and age, I believe he is a perfect candidate for a full recovery. I am not a doctor nor did I play one on TV, so I really cannot guess how long his recovery will be.
Q. What sorts of adjustments can you see the Sixers making in Game 2 and beyond?
A. I expect that the Sixers will immediately challenge C.J. and John, attacking them to find out how consistent they will be defensively throughout the game.
With Holiday, Meeks and Williams, Philadelphia has guards who can put numbers on the scoreboard. Also, with Derrick out, Philly can change its defensive emphasis and can challenge other players such as Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton.
The challenge for the Bulls will be to do it as a team, just as they have done all season long. It is not just one player; it is the cumulative value of all the players that make this Bulls team successful.
Q. Why was Rose out there late in Game 1?
A. If you were watching, you know that Philly was edging back in and most of the starters for both teams were still in the game. You do not want to give the Sixers or any team the momentum to finish a game strong.
As it was, it went from a 20-point game with five minutes to go to a 12-point game with 70 seconds to go with the starters in.
It is easy for anyone to second-guess with the emotions of Rose being hurt, but to have him in at that time was the right call. This is the playoffs. There are no second chances.
•Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls' playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.
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