Though he sat out Monday's practice, D-Rose was out of the walking boot and said he'll play Game 5, despite a sprained ankle.
Derrick Rose sprained watched film on Sunday in a walking boot and practice from the sidelines on Monday -- but in flip-flops -- after a negative MRI was conducted on the left ankle sprain he suffered in the Bulls' Game 4 loss on Saturday. He described the sprain as "minor" and said Monday that he'll play Game 5 against the Pacers on Tuesday at the United Center, K.C. Johnson reported (Chicago Tribune).
"It's getting better every day," Rose said. "I've been getting treatment on it the last couple of days. I've been coming in in the morning and again at night. Hopefully it will be ready. It's not broken, so I'm definitely playing."
He added: "The swelling is down a little. There's still some in there. It hurts more on the inside but I'm fine. After I take the shot, I shouldn't feel anything. Hopefully, I can still perform.
"This one is minor. It takes a couple of days and it's fine. If it was broken, I'd be panicking. I'm just happy the trainers have been making sure I'm getting my treatment and it's coming along fine."
Tom Thibodeau said that he expects C.J. Watson to receive more playing and be ready, that Rose said he "was fine" during Game 3, and didn't notice Rose slowing down in the moment -- though he acknowledged the lack of aggressiveness.
Though his shooting from the floor's been inefficient (31-for-88, .352 FG%; 5-for-29 on 3s, .172 3P%; .381 eFG%), the Bulls are up 3-1 largely because of Rose's aggressiveness getting him to the FT line (46-for-53, 868 FT%; 44-for-49, .898 in the three wins). Also, his 24.3 PER has overproduced his 23.5 rating on the regular season, despite the .508 TS% and 17 turnovers. His 34.3% usage rate is been so high that his turnover rate is still a pretty low 13.2% (after 13.1 in the regular season).
Getting to the line and getting more steals (3.6% rate, compared to the season's 1.5%) is coming from him better utilizing his elite physical attributes with aggressiveness.
The heart is romantic, but the ankle gets it done
ESPN Sport Science took a look at how important his physical skills are toward beating opponents. He changes direction with cuts that take around two-tenths of a second, putting force on his body about three times his body weight. His speed and acceleration largely come from a vertical leap that places high pressure on the ligaments in his lower body that make him maybe the fastest baseline-to-baseline player in the history of the NBA, the study found (ESPN.com):
How do feel about this now?
The need for production support from his teammates
The Bulls as a team aren't shooting well outside of Rose. Actually, it's among the worst of all playoff teams, Matt McHale noted (By the Horns):
As a team, the Bulls rank 15th out of 16 teams in FGP at 39.8 percent. The Knicks, who got swept by the Celtics yesterday, rank 16th at 38.6 percent.
Oh, and if you prefer to go by advanced metrics, the Bulls rank 16th in eFG% at 43.4 percent.
It's easy to note that Rose got to the basket after returning in Game 3, but a sprained ankle is more functional after immediately isolating it to quell the pressure. He'll take a painkilling injection before the game, but the swelling will dictate the utility of his legs -- and I'm scared more damage can be done without the pain indicator an athlete needs to prevent further damaging a ligament.
Against the physicality of the Pacers, the Bulls need aggressiveness to win. Boozer needs to be a back-to-the-basket big man who dunks. Deng needs to cut to the basket more off the ball with his great passing bigs. Noah will need to put the ball on the floor to make that lefty layup more and exploit Roy Hibbert's lack of agility. It's that interior movement and threat with Deng slashing to get to the line that opens up better opportunities with Korver and Bogans to get good looks from 3-point range.
Countering the Pacers' lauded pick n' roll defense
The Sports Science study notes that Rose doesn't need much of an opening to split defenders. His ankle hindering his agility is one thing; the fact that the Pacers are executing the trap quick enough to preempt the opening itself calls for Rose to make quicker passes to the big man rolling to the basket. I've been saying this since he was splitting defenders with ease because he gets trapped more often than he splits the defenders.
You may say that this quicker trap hinders the big man from a bigger basket cut, but this is wrong. The quicker defensive shift allows the big man to preempt the trap after the pick for an even quicker roll. The quicker trap highly challenges the third defender to shift for help and almost always results in a late shift that opens up the big man or a shift too quick that he can't recover to the shooter he's abandoned. That this isn't being exploited is a simple, yet major, flaw in Rose's pick n' roll game. It's getting amplified by the trap, and will even more with lesser quickness.
I wrote in early March: "Another problem Rose has had in distributing the basketball most efficiently is holding onto the ball too long when trapped on the pick n' roll. Boozer is easily a top-three two-man-game big. He sets screens as effectively as a anyone in the game, comes off of them quick to heighten the effectiveness, and his ability to catch n' finish inside or catch n' shoot outside is an asset it's almost criminal to not utilize as Rose has relatively ignored it."
You cannot criticize Booz's weak finishing without criticizing Rose's inability to get him the ball with more open lanes in the pick n' roll game. Anyone conscious of basketball over recent years knows that Booz is a pick n' roll-ninja when he's confident that his quarterback knows when to give him the damn ball. Boozer's finishing ability is largely why he's been such a strong offensive player throughout his career, but Deron Williams timing with Boozer understanding how to read the timing pick n' roll defense was a killer combination that's currently getting ignored. This is basketball-criminal.
Sure, the Bench Mob will need to step up with more productive shifts. Watson's gonna be the point guard with Rose at the two a bit more, but there are starters playing some dead-assed, slow-instinct basketball out there from the Bulls roster on offense and recently on the boards. To win Game 5, this will need to change.
Hell, to be relevant in the 2011 Playoffs, this will need to be become a pattern.