When Chicago Bulls guard, Derrick Rose suffered a late game knee injury in Saturday’s playoff opener against the Philadelphia 76ers that would later be confirmed as a knee injury, the Bulls, who won 103 to 91 didn’t really matter anymore. Headlines were revolving Rose and his torn ACL, not “Bulls win game one” which really seemed to bother Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau.
“I think we all feel awful for him,” Thibodeau said after Sunday’s practice. “Derrick’s not only a great player, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great person, but it’s not a death sentence. It’s not a death sentence for him, it’s not a death sentence for our team. He’s going to come back. He’ll come back better than ever. It’s just the way it is and we’ve got to deal with.”
Rose injured his left knee on Saturday with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter as the Bulls were nursing a 99-87 fourth quarter lead. Rose, despite leaving the game early due to his injury finished with a team high 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists.
As Thibodeau said it and as doctors said it, Rose will miss the remainder of the playoffs as well as more practice time this off-season. However, is Thibodeau right? Are the Bulls okay, without Rose?
The Bulls who finished first in the Eastern Conference at 50-16 and first in the NBA, have already become accustomed to playing without Rose this season as they did so in 27 of their regular season games, winning 18 of them. And one of those wins came against Philadelphia on Saturday, March 17th. The Bulls won that game, 89-80 with back-up point guard, C.J. Watson (Rose’s replacement) leading all of Bulls scorers with 20 points.
So, can C.J. Watson who averaged 9.7 points per game, 4.1 assists per game, and 2.1 rebounds per game and 11.3 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 2.6 rebounds per game as a starter replace Rose? No he cannot as replacing Rose (last years league M.V.P.) is a very tough job to do, however, he can still do what the Bulls wanted to do this post-season and that’s win.
The Bulls will take the floor again against the 76ers for game 2 on Tuesday night at the United Center at 8:00 P.M. Eastern time.
“We’re not going to let anybody paint the picture for us,” Bulls center Joakim Noah told reporters. “Obviously, it’s tough losing Derrick. I feel for him, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“The whole team has to step up,” Noah would continue. “Our margin for error is a lot smaller with Derrick out. Can you replace a guy like Derrick? No. But it’s on us to step up as much as possible.”