Derrick Rose has taken another important step in his recovery by starting to take predictable contact in practice and starting some one on one drills according to Tom Thibodeau (via Nick Friedell).
Here's the full story.
"He's doing what we call 'predictable contact,' " Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday's practice. "Obviously, you're knowing what's coming.
"So he's handled that part great. He's done a little one-on-one, that's coming around, but he's still ... everyone has to be patient. The next step will be a regular practice and he hasn't done that yet. So once he does that, you know he's getting closer."
While I'm sure it's not the intended meaning, the way the quote was written implies Derrick Rose is getting his ass kicked in the one on one drills. My guess is the intending meaning is not to get carried away with these new steps Rose is taking because it will still be awhile.
I'm going to stick with my timeline of immediately following the all-star break which was my guess back when he first had the surgery and not much has changed to make me think otherwise. The bulls presently sit six games above .500 sitting in a clump of four teams that are within a game of each other in spots 3-6 in the Eastern Conference.
Their success so far, creates little pressure for Rose to return. If Rose returns healthy and able to play at a high level with 30 games or so left to play [post all-star break] and Chicago plays as well for the next 20 or so games as they have so far, then Chicago will look poised to capture the #3 seed with an outside shot at the #1 or #2 seed.
Given the nature of this season, that's a pretty good outcome for Chicago and positions them well in the playoffs. Assume the Bulls capture #3, Miami hangs on to #1, and the Bulls look set to play the Knicks in the 2nd round. I'm quite content to take my chances against New York in the playoffs in round two and feel the Bulls will make it back to the ECF.
Everything is still reliant on how well Rose recovers though. If he comes back at 75% but tries to take over like he's 100% then the Bulls may actually get worse upon his return rather than better, but we won't know what Rose looks like until we see him on the court and I'm optimistic that he'll play within himself upon his return.
Beware of the dead cat bounce
If Jim Boylan's coaching of the Bulls is any indication, the Bucks are in for a lousy second half of the season. That said, many teams immediately feel free upon having a bad coaching system go away even if the new coach is completely worthless.
Skiles reportedly hated his team, and no doubt the feeling was mutual. The Bucks likely feel like a weight has been lifted and will almost certainly come out feeling loose, happy, and without pressure. The Bucks racked up 108 points against Phoenix in a win against Phoenix last night to break their four game losing streak.
I expect the next Milwaukee game to be the Bucks at their best which will make it a much bigger challenge for Chicago. In order to win, the Bulls will need to match Milwaukee's energy and hustle. Playing with energy hasn't been a problem recently for Chicago which has dominated the glass in their past two wins.
Milwaukee plays very undersized, so Chicago should dominate the glass in this game, and doing so is the key to the win. They're small at guard, they're small in the front court, they're small all over. The Bulls showed an outstanding ability to abuse Cleveland's small guards in the last game as well as their small front court.
Chicago needs to show similar levels of interior passing, position, and hustle to abuse the Bucks with their size advantage as well. The Bucks can counter with athleticism. Particularly at guard where Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings have large speed advantages against their defenders. They'll create situations where Chicago needs to help on dribble penetration which means the Bulls need crisp interior rotations to protect the rim and force Milwaukee into multiple passes to find the open man.
The outcome of the game will really come down to the Bulls size all over the floor vs the Bucks perimeter speed. I like the Bulls odds of pulling this one out.