C.J. Watson's playing some pretty solid PG in relief of Derrick, John Lucas is stepping up and doing a solid job off the bench as well. However, the biggest difference in the past two games has been the play of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
Give Boozer his due
Carlos Boozer has been repeatedly maligned for his lack of defense and hasn't delivered the offensive punch to counteract the defensive lapses for much of the season. However, with Rose out, the Bulls really needed him to step up, and he has delivered.
He's shot 63% and scored 50 points over the past two games.
With Boozer giving the Bulls high quality offense, the whole team has played smoother.
Joakim finally looks like Joakim
His scoring numbers are still a tad low, but the Bulls have found plenty of offense recently, so his touches have also been down. However, his hustle, defense, and rebounding are back. Noah's getting back to the things he's best at and was a thorn in the side of the Cavs all night on the offensive glass.
He also did a nice job helping on Irving, forcing a jump ball on one play while Irving attacked him off the dribble and tried to draw a foul.
Rip Hamilton fitting in like a glove
He's a player who's ability on the court goes well beyond his stats and watching him recently makes that readily obvious. His mediocre efficiency can be annoying at times as he doesn't shoot threes or find his way to the line much, but his constant off the ball movement is creating tons of space and easy looks.
Richard Hamilton does more to help the offense flow than can be quantified in the box score.
Luol Deng had a big night
Like many nights, Deng was doing a bit of everything. He scored well, slashed to the basket well, moved well without the ball, hit the glass hard, and played great defense. Luol Deng isn't an all-star in my opinion, but he's a two way player who can contribute in all facets of the game.
He'll never be the shot creator we sometimes wish he was, but in Bill Simmons terms, he's a class table player. He brings a lot of things to the table but doesn't take anything off of it.
C.J. Watson has looked awfully good as a starter
Prior to the injury, Watson was knocking down his threes and playing defense but couldn't buy a bucket inside the arc. As a starter he's been aggressive looking for his shot and leading the offense. Watson's playing at an extremely high level sporting a 23+ PER and has admirably stepped up his game.
With the level of play he's shown so far, particularly when Rose is out, he's going to make it awfully hard for the Bulls to cut him to save money this summer. Quite frankly, Chicago isn't likely to find another player to perform as well for his three million.
The rotation is going to look awfully crowded when everyone is healthy
There really aren't enough minutes for Rose, Watson, Hamilton, Brewer, Korver, and Deng. It will be interesting to see if there is a consistent loser in that group. Watson is the most likely candidate as the Bulls probably won't limit Rose's minutes or slide him to SG with the glut of players there already.
This looks like an elite team
Chicago has had its rough patches. The offense has stalled at times and looked too reliant on Rose. However, they've had few games with the full team healthy. Rose has missed time, Hamilton has missed time, and Watson has missed time.
Yet Chicago is posting huge wins against the non elite teams even with players hurt. They're performing at a high level with injuries, and have done so on both ends of the court.
The Bulls have wins of 40, 39, 24, and 21. In fact, only three of their 14 wins were by less than 10 points (and one of those was by 9).
The Bulls have shown they're capable of doing it on both ends of the court, and if they are able to ride into the playoffs looking this strong then it will be tough for anyone to stop them.