The recent inconsistency with All-Star point guard Derrick Rose in and out of the lineup due to injuries makes New York Knicks backup Jared Jeffries believe that the Chicago Bulls are the better potential first-round matchup in the playoffs.
"I still think the Bulls," Jeffries said Friday afternoon on ESPN 1050's Ryan Ruocco and Robin Lundberg show. "Whenever you can have an MVP candidate or former MVP player be out on the team, I think that's what you've got to go for. I mean, they're still playing very well without him, but I'm not sure over a seven-game series they can keep that high level of playing without Derrick Rose."
While the Bulls haven't flinched recently in the top spot in the East, the Knicks have been pretty much stationary as the eighth seed for several weeks. And both teams continue to play at a high level. The Knicks are 12-4 since coach Mike Woodson took over on March 14, and the Bulls are 9-4 since March 12 in games without Rose. In fact, the Bulls are 16-7 this season with an inactive Rose, and they beat the second-seeded Miami Heat in overtime Thursday night 96-86 when he played at less than 100 percent.
Even if Rose does regain full strength before the playoffs start, Jeffries is "very confident" the Knicks can upset the Bulls or Heat in the first round.
"I think that we've shown that if we come out with the focus that we've had over the last two weeks, we can play with anybody," he said. "We've done a great job defensively of locking in and following a game plan. And then when it comes down to offense, when you put a guy like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire out there, that's the last of your worries of scoring the ball. If you can get stops, those guys will find a way to score."
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