K.C. Johnson asked Derrick Rose whether he'll play in the regular season, and Derrick Rose's response was "I think so". The words of an athlete frustrated by constantly being asked about his injury or the words of one constantly frustrated by the injury? Sadly, the later feels more likely.
April Fool's day is over, so now the title is no joke, Rose's comments should scare Bulls nation to the core. The situation seems awfully similar to Kevin Garnett in 08/09 who was simply day to day forever until he was ruled out of the playoffs.
You can see the full video clip here. I'll say this, Rose did at least sound upbeat while answering, but the fact that he's still doing little running and has no real timeline on his return can't be encouraging.
At this point, he'll almost certainly miss week, and we'll just have to see what happens. I think it's likely Rose returns prior to the end of the regular season unless there is another injury the Bulls medical staff hasn't disclosed, but let's start imagining various doomsday scenarios.
If Rose were to miss the first round of the playoffs, and the Bulls were able to advance out of it, he would have rested about eight and a half weeks before the start of the second round. It seems likely that his injury would recover by that point, so there's a decent chance that if he were to miss the first round he might still come back for the second and/or ECF.
Who could the Bulls beat in round 1?
Chicago could trivially beat the Knicks or Bucks without Rose, and if they can hang on to the one spot without him, they'll face one of those two teams. Thus hanging on to the #1 seed becomes far more important. If the Bulls end up in the #2 slot, their opponent could be just about anyone.
Presently just two games separate Indiana (5) and Philadelphia (7) with Boston (4) only separated by one game, but sitting in the fourth spot as the third division leader. The Bulls could reasonably face any of the three or Atlanta in the first round if they fall to the number two spot in the standings.
With 12 games left to play, their magic number on the #1 seed is 11 which really doesn't say much outside of the fact that they're holding on to a very tenuous lead.
A game against any of teams presently poised as a possibility for the seven slot would be a winnable contest without Rose, but I think the Bulls might be underdogs in all four situations.
I think Chicago would have the biggest edge on Boston with their ability to control the glass and Boston's inability to do so, but Boston has such polished veterans and can play both ends of the floor that they'd still likely have the upper hand.
Philly would overrun out backcourt with their athleticism, but they can go into long stretches of an inability to score much like our Bulls team without Rose.
Indiana is probably the most fearsome group of the four because they have a couple of consistent scorers, an offense that can score from all five positions, and a ton of perimeter defense. I don't think a Roseless team is likely to beat the Pacers.
Atlanta's a dyslexic team that could show up and kill you or completely fall apart, and I'd have no idea what to expect from them come playoff time. Whether the Bulls team wins or not would likely depend more on which Atlanta team they face as the Hawks run so hot and cold.
The good news about round two is it's no worse than round 1
The Bulls would face one of the above mentioned teams or the Orlando Magic, and I think Chicago actually stands a decent chance against the Magic even without Rose. Orlando relies heavily on Dwight, but that hasn't been a recipe for playoff success, and the Bulls have enough front court depth to frustrate him over a series.
The Magic don't have anyone else consistent on the perimeter, and I think the Bulls would stand a fair shot at beating them. Granted, there's plenty of reasons to believe the Magic could take out the Bulls as well, and as I described above, the Bulls could fall to any of those teams.
The miracle playoff run ends there if Rose isn't back
Chicago won't get past Miami without Derrick, they just won't. However, this point represents about 10.5 weeks since the initial injury, and while I suspect Rose is still two to three weeks away, this likely represents nearly eight weeks from today. It's hard to imagine Rose not being ready at that point unless the information regarding his injury has been purposefully deceptive.
Of course the Bulls will need and want Rose back earlier in order to get some type of chemistry together.
In other injury news, Hamilton held out by Thibodeau
Thibodeau says Rip is ready to go, but he's holding him back to make sure that he's healthy. He presumably wants to see Rip take on more hits in practice and still feel okay the next day. Unlike Rose, I think it's fair to say that Rip will probably make his return soon.
While it hasn't been officially stated, I'd be quite surprised if Hamilton goes tonight. If he didn't show Thibodeau enough to play Sunday then he'll have no opportunity to really show him much prior to tonight's tip off. After tonight's game, the Bulls have two off days in which they can practice and Thibs can fully test out how healthy Hamilton is.
If Hamilton passes the test he would play against Boston on Thursday, but the Bulls wouldn't be crazy to rest him in that game if any concerns remain given that there are two more off days following it until Sunday's tip off against New York. At this point, I think Rip's likely to return in one of those two games though as once the player says he's ready to go, it's tough to see management holding him out for more than one additional week.
If Hamilton can come back and play well, it will ease some of the burden on the Roseless Bulls and increase the odds of them beating some of those middle of the pack teams above. Hopefully Rip can return, stay healthy, and contribute at a high level.