Is Derrick Rose ready to come back?
Well, it was difficult to say based on a raucous, rotating game of 1-on-1 at the end of Tuesday's practice at the Berto Center.
While Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau spoke to the media, Rose took part in the 1-on-1 contest, which also included Nazr Mohammed, Daequan Cook, Marquis Teague, Vladimir Radmanovic and newcomer Malcolm Thomas.
Rose focused mostly on step-back jumpers. He hit a 3-pointer against Cook, and shorter jumpers while matched with Teague and Mohammed. He also got the ball stripped once by Cook.
On defense, Rose got multiple stops while guarding Thomas and Radmanovic. The game was that if you get a defensive stop, you stay on the court and go on offense against a new defender. Score and the defensive player has to leave.
There was a roar in the gym when Nazr Mohammed dunked on a drive to the basket. But the ultimate winner was Radmanovic, who struck a surfer pose to celebrate.
"I won some. It's who's hot that day," Mohammed said. "Vlad, he's ready if his number's called. He's working hard."
Rose stayed to work on his 3-point shot, which was a little flat in the 1-on-1 tournament. Thibodeau gave no indication whether Rose might play his first game of the season against Miami on Wednesday, but did say Rose participated in all of practice.
Thibodeau said Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) felt a little better Tuesday, so both are likely game-time decisions. Noah has missed two games, Belinelli one.
Defensive success, overall failure:
The Bulls were the ninth victim in Miami's long winning streak. The Heat won at the United Center 86-67 on Feb. 21.
What's strange about that game is that it was easily Miami's lowest point total during the 27-game winning streak. The next lowest was 97 points. Yet, the Bulls lost badly that night, thanks in large part to a season-high 27 turnovers.
"When you're playing them, you've got to play for 48 minutes, obviously," Thibodeau said. "The game started off fine. We made some mistakes in the second quarter that snowballed on us. You can't turn the ball over against them. You turn the ball over against them, a live ball turnover, they're gong to convert very quickly in transition, so that's what you can't do.
"You have to play a well-balanced game. You have to protect the ball, got to be strong. You've got to defend, got to rebound. You've got to put a lot into it."
Miami starts small:
Nazr Mohammed has played well the past two games starting in place of Joakim Noah. But coach Tom Thibodeau has often said he thinks Mohammed matches up better against taller centers.
Miami never really plays with a true center. The Heat starts Chris Bosh in the middle with veteran Udonis Haslem at power forward. At times, Miami will bring in hyperathletic forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen, but quite often plays with LeBron James at power forward.
"We've got a lot of versatility. We can go big, we can go small," Thibodeau said. "Nazr's a smart player. He plays body position defense, protects the rim. I think you've got to have size out there. That's important against this team. Rebounding's key, you can't overlook that."
Since Luol Deng usually guards James, the Bulls can adjust to a smaller front line, although one question is whether they can afford to remove Carlos Boozer's scoring from the lineup.