Throughout the regular season the Chicago Bulls went 18-9 while Derrick Rose was out 27 games due to a plethora of injuries. By being the deepest team in the NBA, especially at the point guard position the Bulls barely missed a beat without the reigning MVP. I am a fan of the Bulls and I predicted them to win the championship if they can have a healthy Derrick Rose. When I watched their first game of the first round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers I felt even more confident in their championship run. Derrick Rose was on pace to a triple-double by registering 23-points, 9-assists, and 9-rebounds. The Bulls were up 12 points with 1:23 left in regulation Rose made an explosive move to the basket and his knee buckled; essentially tearing his ACL. With that injury Derrick Rose will have to miss the remainder of the playoffs. I have been hearing many people say that Bulls coach, Tom Thibodeau, should not have had Derrick Rose on the floor with such little time left in the game and having such a commanding lead. I strongly disagree with everyone of those critics. Derrick Rose had missed 27 games and it took him almost 27 minutes to find a groove and I am sure that Tom Thibodeau wanted Derrick Rose to regain confidence in closing out games; since he has not done so in almost 2 months. I question all of those critics that if Derrick Rose had not gotten injured would they have had a problem with Thibodeau’s coaching decision?
I look at who is left on this Bulls team and what competition they have ahead of them. First, they must get past the Philadelphia 76ers; I which I believe they can do. Next, they must past either the Boston Celtics or the Atlanta Hawks; now I believe they can beat both teams but beating the Celtics is a great task and that series would not be one to sneeze at. The reason I still have absolute faith in this Bulls team, other than having a top 5 player in Derrick Rose, is their bigs. The Bulls have an advantage on every team in the NBA with a rotation of quality bigs like Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik. At the beginning of the season I chose the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers to go to the NBA Finals because they both have a top 5 player and quality bigs. With as many big bodies that the Chicago Bulls have it is almost impossible to get to the basket through them and it is almost impossible to steal rebounds from them. The Bulls defense is based on the team dynamic and as long as Derrick Rose has been out his teammates have developed a sense of how to succeed without his presence on the court. The Bulls will no longer a have a player who draws a double team with his ability to find seams in a defense and finds his way to the basket but they still have excellent ball movement, great rebounding, and they can still spread the floor with shooters like Richard Hamilton and Kyle Korver.
I do not believe the Bulls are favorites but I do not believe they are pretenders either. They are as much contenders as are the Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Los Angeles Lakers.