Should Derrick Rose, who's sitting out his third game in a row with a bad back, play in the All-Star Game?
Would Jeremy Lin and the Knicks give the Bulls problems in the playoffs?
Those are two of the topics our panel tackles in 3-on-3.
1. Fact or Fiction: Derrick Rose should not play in the All-Star Game
Scoop Jackson: Fiction: Rose needs to be in Orlando and hear his named called during the introductions. Playing in the game battling for MVP honors with a bad back would not be smart, but breaking a sweat and breaking Russell Westbrook or CP3‘s ankle while they are trying to guard him for the helluv it is worth it. How many minutes he plays will be up to Thibs once he gets the nod as East head coach. Plus, Rose needs to at least be there to share the maybe once-in-a-career experience with Deng.
Melissa Isaacson: Fact: Even if the rest and treatment Rose is now receiving puts him in a playable condition come All-Star weekend, the Bulls should highly discourage it and Rose should listen. It's easy to feel for him. Rose loves to play in the All-Star Game and that's but one of the reasons he is so popular with fans. Also, for business purposes, the many companies he represents will no doubt exert as much friendly pressure as they can for him to play. But these are special circumstances and it's not worth the risk that even the slightest tweak will set him back again. If it were up to me, I wouldn't let Rose make the trip at all, even to shake hands -- why sit on a plane, sleep in a hotel bed and stiffen up on the bench?
Nick Friedell: Fiction: The All-Star Game is an exhibition. All anybody does is run up and down the floor. No player is really exerting himself. If you'll recall, there were a lot of people who didn't want Rose to play in his first All-Star Game a couple years ago in Dallas because he had fallen hard after taking a shot from Dwight Howard right before the break and bruised his hip. He ended up being fine. If he's well enough to play in a week, he'll be well enough to run up and down the floor for 20 minutes in the All-Star Game.
2. Fact or Fiction: Bulls can't get by Boston without Derrick at 100 percent.
Fact: Especially if the Celtics are at full strength. More than other teams, the Celtics may benefit from the crazy sporadic-ness of the season. The shorter the season, the better for them. Time breaks them down not games played. If the Bulls are without Rose, Rajon Rondo will have a series of games just like the one he had on Sunday. He won't mess around and get triple-doubles, he'll make them the norm. As long as the Celtics have their core and Doc Rivers is their coach they are going to be one of the toughest outs in the league. As we say on the block: They ain't no punks. The Bulls need all hands, wrists, feet, legs, etc. on deck against them. Or else, the Bulls will catch the same fate the Knicks caught last year against the C's once their point guard went down.
Melissa Isaacson:Fiction: They almost did the other day in Boston and in a game much more important for the Celtics to win than the Bulls. With Rose even close to full-strength -- and obviously the Bulls are counting on him being 100 percent come playoff time -- the Bulls are clearly a superior team. Another factor: the ancient Celtics are bound to show more wear-and-tear by then than a team like the Bulls.
Nick Friedell: Fiction. Rose doesn't have to be feeling great, he just has to play. It would be a long series, but the Bulls would have enough depth and talent to push past Boston in the end. Now if Rose can't play at all, then things may be different. The Celtics have done a good job on Luol Deng and they decided (at least last Sunday) to let C.J. Watson beat them from the outside. He couldn't do it. If Rose plays, even at 75 percent, he still has the ability to break down defenses and get open looks for his teammates. The Bulls will be fine as long as he can be on the floor.
3. Fact or Fiction: Jeremy Lin and the Knicks can give the Bulls trouble in the playoffs.
Scoop Jackson:Fiction: Only saying this because we have not seen the “ShaoLIN” Knicks at full-roster strength to see 1) how Mike D'Antoni is going to make this work 2) if he can make it work with his newfound savior at the point and the return of the $200M duo of Melo and Amar'e or 3) if Baron Davis proves to be the most dangerous sixth man in the playoffs next to James Harding. If things fall in place for the Knicks and they are able to establish some chemistry and continuity and win their division, then the answer above changes. Not that the Bulls won't win the series, but a 10-deep Knicks team on a roll with nothing to lose come playoff time could be nothing but trouble.
Melissa Isaacson: Fact: The Knicks were capable of giving the Bulls a run in the playoffs before the Jeremy Lin phenomenon. But giving them a little trouble and getting past them are two different things, and even with Lin, the Knicks are still not the team the Bulls are. Yes, Lin is a great story right now, but let's not get too carried away too soon. By the postseason, opponents -- and particularly Tom Thibodeau -- is likely to have a better handle on how to stop a player no one was prepared to play. And that's providing that Lin doesn't run out of steam on his own by then.
Nick Friedell: Fiction. The Bulls are deeper than the Knicks and they play much better defense. Those two factors would overwhelm the Knicks in a seven-game series. Sure, the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire, and Lin is definitely playing well -- but the Bulls have Rose and they have a defense that adapts well over the course of a game. The Knicks are a good story, the Bulls are a great team.