Sam Smith and ESPN are reporting that Derrick Rose, while still in a walking boot today, plans to play tonight as the Bulls travel to Boston to play the Celtics.
If you are reading this, I don't have to tell you how huge this is for the Bulls. Yes, they beat the Wizards without Derrick, and John Lucas III almost had a triple-double, but the Wizards are the worst team in the NBA.
The Celtics aren't playing a lot better, to tell you the truth- they are only 4-5 on the season, and they have lost their last two home games.
Rajon Rondo is playing the best ball of his career right now, but he and Ray Allen are the only guys on the team playing well. Rondo is averaging a career-high 15.8 points and leads the league in assists, while Allen leads the team in scoring (19.0) while shooting an unheard-of 58% overall and 63% from behind the arc.
This condensed schedule figures to hurt the Celtics as much as any team in the league- Allen and KG are closer to 40 than 30, and Paul Pierce (who only took 5 shots in their last game) is 34. But both teams were off yesterday, so fatigue shouldn't be a factor in tonight's game.
Assuming Rose plays, he has dominated Rondo lately, holding the Celtics' PG to 9.2 points per game in the teams' last five meetings. If Derrick is able to move much at all, he should be able to win this matchup, which gives the Bulls a huge edge tonight.
Rip Hamilton will again dress and go through pre-game warmups before a decision on his availability becomes official. It will certainly be nice to get him back, the team's offensive efficiency is the best in the NBA so far this season when Rip plays (granted, it's only been 5 games).
The Bulls won't miss Hamilton too much if Kyle Korver keeps up his hot shooting- over his last six games, Hot Sauce is averaging 11.5 points on 16/27 (.593) shooting from behind the arc. He'll have to be hitting tonight if he is going to stay on the floor while having to guard either Allen or Paul Pierce.
Boozer and Noah have struggled mightily the past few games, which has led to Gibson and Asik finishing games lately. You can look at this one of two ways- either it's troubling that Boozer and Noah make a combined $25 million this season and can't get off the bench in the 4th quarter, or it's a huge luxury to have two starting-caliber front-court players to back them up.
Or, I guess you can look at it both ways- it's a huge luxury to have Taj and Omer coming off the bench, but Noah and Boozer still need to pick it up. They've got 50+ games to get their butts in gear, I'm not too worried about either of them.
As long as they can make it to the playoffs healthy, the Bulls will be fine.
Tonight's game time is 7 PM CT, you can watch it on ESPN, CSN Chicago or CSN New England (if you're unfortunate enough to live in the Northeast).
PS- The blog is still new to ChicagoNow and I am still working on getting my images uploaded, so I apologize for the boring, no-picture look of this post.