As fans of the Chicago Bulls braced for the worse, some positive news regarding Derrick Rose came from the Berto Center, just in time to give everyone some confidence. Successful meniscus surgery will only keep Rose out between 4-6 weeks, according to Bulls.com writer Sam Smith. Barring any setbacks, Rose will be back a few weeks before the NBA playoffs. Just in time to give the other Eastern Conference contenders a challenge. For now, the challenge is for the Bulls to come together and finish strong during the final stretch of the season.
Not having Rose will be tough. His latest injury is detrimental to their title hopes if you ask ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith. It was Smith who proclaimed that “it is over for the Chicago Bulls” during a televised interview. He was speaking from the point of view of the fans who believe they will never see Derrick Rose return to the level that he was playing at in the 2011-12 season in which he won the award for the NBA’s most valuable player.
Just when Bulls’ fans were looking for hope that all is not lost, news broke that the meniscus injury is not as bad as it was originally feared. It gave the Bulls and their fans a much-needed sigh of relief. The good news gave Bulls’ Coach Tom Thibodeau a moment to reflect, courtesy of the Associated Press, on how his star point guard was progressing through the season.
”Right before the break, I thought he was finally getting into a really good rhythm, and so, I think he’s confident he’ll get back to that. It may take a little bit of time, and obviously, you know he won’t be playing the same amount of minutes when he does come back.”
Thibodeau knows what is ahead for Rose and the Bulls. He must coax some masterful performances from his team once again while his point guard rehabs from a third knee injury. Other factors must come into place if the Bulls want to regain their position as title contenders.
It has been a tough, injury-riddled season for the Bulls. Losing Rose is not the only factor that has hampered them.
ICYMI: Derrick Rose underwent successful surgery on his meniscus and will be out 4-6 weeks. pic.twitter.com/9PUWYj35vd
— 120 Sports (@120Sports) February 28, 2015
In the middle of the season the Bulls lost small forward Mike Dunleavy, Jr. for 19 games with an ankle injury. Prior to Rose’s injury, losing Dunleavy, Jr. was the biggest injury the team had to face.
Floor spacing became an issue. Players were just standing around as if they did not know what they should do. This included Rose, who by all accounts, took too many shots that were out of the flow of the offense. Bulls’ players could not develop a rhythm from just standing around, or Rose taking ill-timed jump shots.
At first, one could point to not having Dunleavy, Jr. healthy. His job is to spread the floor and get open for three-pointers. Opposing defenders would have to guard him, leaving the post available for frontcourt players Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah to get into position for easy shots. The team lost that element with Dunleavy, Jr. absent. He has since returned, but now that Rose is recovering, the Bulls cannot gain any consistency or momentum.
The underrated Jimmy Butler must fully take the reigns as the Chicago Bulls best player if they want to avoid sliding down the standings. No Derrick Rose means that someone must step forward and that someone has to be none other than their leading scorer.
If he can put them on his back and help the Bulls finish strong, they should have the confidence needed when the postseason starts. That is the sole basis of the 2014-15 campaign for the Chicago Bulls at this point – confidence. Losing Derrick Rose is a huge blow to it, but getting him back before season’s end allows someone else to step up.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]