Derrick Rose will travel with the team, but he's a game time decision for tonight's tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs, expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, have surprised NBA fans with a solid 6-7 start while playing only four games at home.
The Cavs are led by rookie PG Kyrie Irving, the front runner for rookie of the year. Irving's having a Rose-like rookie season and appears on the path to stardom. Is he on the path to superstardom? Well, few players have ever made the improvements Rose has between years one and three, so he still has a loooong way to go even if the early signs are promising.
Looking at players like Tyreke Evans, O.J. Mayo, or Brandon Jenngings, the league is littered with guys who started off hot and either declined or never significantly improved. Still, it's a nice shot in the arm for Cleveland to get a potential star rookie after the LeBron fiasco.
The Cavs MO this season has been fairly straight forward. They beat lousy teams and lose to good teams. Nothing too difficult to dissect about that. If Derrick Rose plays, the Bulls are a very good team and should have little problem dispatching the Cavs.
However, if the Bulls are sitting here debating about whether Derrick Rose should play tonight, then the answer should be no. Seriously, don't screw around with turf toe. It can become a season long pain in our ass. Suck it up, take the lumps now in the meaningless part of the season and make sure the Bulls are as close to 100% as possible come playoff time.
Without Rose, this could be a tough game. However, I like C.J. Watson's defensive intensity and think he'll step up to the challenge of checking Irving while the offense looked very good against Phoenix with Hamilton and Watson back in it. I'm picking the Bulls with or without Rose, and for our future's sake, I hope we go without if the toe is still an issue.
Keys to the game -assuming no Rose
Know your personnel on defense
The Cavs are a two man offense right now with Irving breaking down the lane and Antawn Jamison playing the role of stretch four. Get a guy out on Jamison and provide help as necessary for Iving and live with the consequences of defending those two players well. If Anderson Verajao or Alonzo Gee beat you then so be it.
The Cavs only other real shooting threats are Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker, and to some extent Omri Casspi (who's off to a lousy start shooting the ball). The Cavs are a team that will take a lot of bad shots if you make them work at it, so make them work at it.
Rebound the basketball
The Cavaliers are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, but so are the Bulls. The Bulls simply need to be cognizant of the glass and make sure to put extra effort into cleaning it up.
Move the ball
Ball movement and precision kills most teams, but it especially kills young teams. With Derrick Rose possibly out, the Bulls will need to move the ball quickly and efficiently to create holes in the defense rather than relying on Rose's ability to simply break down the opponent and create a good look.
Smells like a win
I look for Chicago to come out and take this game regardless of whether Derrick plays, but it should be a fun game to watch for those of us who like to see some of the hot young talent in the NBA.
On a side note, has the league ever had this much talent at PG in it before? Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and then you've got young guys like Stephan Curry, Brandon Jennings, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, and Kyrie Irving.