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Saturday, April 28, 2012
Will Bulls wilt without Derrick Rose?

ESPN.com

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced Saturday. Rose suffered the injury while trying to leap off his left foot in the lane with 1:22 left in Saturday's playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Our 5-on-5 crew weighs in on what the loss of the reigning MVP means to the Bulls.


1. What were your first few thoughts when Rose went down?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: 1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo. 2. Non-contact knee injuries are almost always season-ending, and this one looked like a less severe Shaun Livingston situation. 3. When Rose returns I sure hope he regains his explosiveness to the hoop.

Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Oh, no. That looks really, really bad. When he didn't pop right back up I knew he was in trouble. Rose almost always bounces right back up. The looks on people's faces around him told the story. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau raced out to the court like a concerned parent. Rose fell right in front of his brother Reggie, who was sitting courtside. As a basketball fan, and somebody who covers him every day, I just felt awful for him.

Israel Gutierrez, ESPN.com: I've long compared Rose's year to Dwyane Wade's back-to-back injury-plagued seasons from 2006 to '08, because their explosive styles are so similar. So my immediate thought was something like this was inevitable, especially because he'd been playing hurt. Completing the Wade comparison, my next thought was Rose needs to dedicate himself to fully recovering and regaining explosiveness, regardless of how long it takes, as Wade eventually did.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com: One of my first thoughts, as shamefully selfish as it sounds, was this: How many days will it take to lift the gloom this injury is going to foist upon the playoffs? So many of us were counting on this postseason to be an uplifting ride that made up for the chaos of a regular season that stuffed 66 games into 120-something days. We didn't even make it through one playoff game feeling good about the second season ... and Iman Shumpert's follow-up knee injury punched everyone in the gut again.

Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: The first thought is shock because you have spent months considering what will happen in the playoffs and comparing contenders and evaluating matchups. You have long conversations and write stories about Rose and the Bulls. Then, poof, everything is changed. It's a blow to the entire league and to fans in Chicago and outsiders who really just want a great two months of playoffs.


2. What does this mean for the Bulls in this postseason?


Adande: They have a ceiling now. They've played fantastic team basketball, but without a superstar that's a formula for winning games and not championships. Now they're like the 2010 Suns or the 2009 Rockets: tough to beat, but not the team to beat.

Friedell: There is no way they can get past Miami in a seven-game series now. It will be tough for them to get past Boston.

Gutierrez: It means we'll all get to see just how superstar-driven the postseason really is. This isn't the regular season, and offensive execution isn't nearly as easy without an above-average creator. Defense will keep them in games, but even getting past the Sixers will be a major challenge.

Stein: They might be used to playing and even winning without Rose, but watching their stud go down in that manner is going to inflict an emotional toll. I wouldn't expect anything more now than the Bulls finding a way past Philadelphia.

Windhorst: I value their depth, I respect their coach and I believe that trying to come together after the injury could create a bonding experience that might even give them a short-term bounce. But I just can't see them as a title contender anymore. They were a team with limited offensive weapons and Rose was vital to them getting tough baskets. I don't see how they replace that and win three or four series without him.


3. What's your take on Tom Thibodeau's handling of Rose's playing time?


Adande: Rose needed reps. The best way to prepare him for later playoff games was to play him in playoff games, even with a comfortable lead. Thibodeau is the No. 1 coach of the year on many ballots and now people want to say he doesn't know what he's doing?

Friedell: Thibs has been getting second-guessed about leaving guys too long for two years. I don't necessarily blame him for leaving Rose in during a playoff game, but he's been playing with fire on this issue for a while and he finally got burned. Fairly or unfairly, he will be criticized about this decision for a long time.

Gutierrez: No problem with it. Thibodeau had to commit to playing Rose without limits if his team wanted to truly compete for a title. And he said before the game there were no restrictions on Rose. This was a freak injury, and it could've happened at any point in the game. Thibs can be intense, and it may eventually grind on players during the regular season. But holding this particular injury against him would be unfair.

Stein: I could pile on to the chorus roasting Thibodeau for having D-Rose in the game at that stage, but far more meaningful is how Bulls management reacts. Team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is already on record as being concerned about the minutes Thibodeau asks some of his key guys to log. And as one club insider told me late Saturday, this episode "is going to be a problem" for the reigning NBA coach of the year.

Windhorst: I think Thibodeau often acts like a relatively young coach and focuses on winning every single game instead of taking the long view. He's a grinder to the core and it shows in the way he coaches. He has ridden Rose hard at times this season when he has not been 100 percent and perhaps placed the value of certain regular-season games higher than the greater good. But there is no way he should be held accountable for having Rose out there Saturday. It was a non-contact injury. Could've happened in the first quarter of Game 2 just as easily.


4. Do you connect this injury with anything from the regular season?


Adande: Even though an athletic trainer says these types of injuries can happen to healthy or hobbled players, I have to believe there was a cumulative effect. Maybe the compressed schedule exacerbated his other injuries, and with more games per week any time out meant missing more action. That left him with a bigger deficit to make up. And here we are, in this very bad place.

Friedell: After the turf toe injury early in the season, Rose never quite got back on track. His body was always a little off and he kept pushing to come back on the floor. How much of an impact all those injuries had on this particular one is tough to measure, but I definitely think there is an impact. Rose wasn't able to continue to train and work out the way he likes. Maybe it's just bad luck, but I think there is a connection in there somewhere.

Gutierrez: If this was indeed an injury that occurred because Rose was still compensating for other injuries, then I do blame the compacted regular season in this sense: Had this been an 82-game season, Rose would've probably taken more time to rest each individual injury rather than the stop-start routine he attempted.

Stein: I'm obviously not a doctor and probably shouldn't be trying to play one online. An ACL injury suffered on a non-contact jump stop, furthermore, is bound to be classified by medical experts as "freakish." But Rose has been dealing with all manner of foot and leg injuries all season. Which makes it difficult not to presume that he was vulnerable to some sort of leg trauma ... that having his ankles heavily taped and braces all over the place could have transmitted the force of that jump stop to his left knee.

Windhorst: I'm not a doctor or a knee specialist. I know that if there's certain weakness in muscles it can increase the chances of an ACL injury. But you see fully healthy players tear their ACLs all the time. This was not Grant Hill playing on a broken ankle or Larry Bird playing through back injuries. It's an unfortunate break.


5. How does Rose's injury affect the NBA title picture?


Adande: I never thought the Bulls were going to win it, specifically because I doubted Rose would get back to top shape and maximum efficiency by the end of the playoffs. And if Rose was incapable of being the best player on the court against the Heat, the Bulls weren't going to beat them. Now, maybe Boston gets to the conference finals and maybe beats the Heat. Maybe. I still like the Heat to come out of the East.

Friedell: I never thought the Bulls were going to get past Miami to begin with. Rose's injury only makes it easier for the Heat to win a title this year. Sure, getting past Oklahoma City, San Antonio or the Lakers will be tough, but the Heat have to feel like they caught a huge break with this news.

Gutierrez: Didn't think the Bulls would get past Miami, and possibly not even Boston if those teams were to meet. So overall, doesn't affect the championship picture much. Still the Heat's title to lose.

Stein: Cold as it sounds, Chicago's misfortune doesn't change my thinking much. I had already downgraded the Bulls' odds of winning it all in Monday's farewell edition of the Power Rankings because of all the time D-Rose missed during the regular season. I certainly never dreamed that catastrophe would strike so quickly, but I also never believed that Rose could miss more than a third of the schedule and be as dominant as Chicago needs him to be to win it all.

Windhorst: In the East, the instant advantage goes to the Heat and the Celtics. I believe Boston will beat Atlanta and playing either a hobbled Bulls team or the 76ers in the second round is a big swing of events. Especially with the second-round schedule compressed with back-to-backs, something that is threatening to the Celtics because of their age and depth issues. For the Heat it opens the door for them to end up with home-court advantage in the conference finals if the Bulls are ousted. Also it debilitates one of the two teams (the Celtics being the other) that I feel could keep the Heat from the Finals.