The Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers expected to have their franchise players back by now. Their ongoing absences appear to have caught up to both teams.
While it remains unclear if or when Derrick Rose and Andrew Bynum will return this season, the Bulls are tumbling down the playoff standings and the visiting 76ers may be ruining their postseason hopes altogether going into this meeting Thursday night.
A rematch of these teams' 2012 first-round playoff series - one in which Rose tore his ACL - almost certainly won't happen. Philadelphia (22-33) has fallen well behind eighth-place Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, and Chicago (32-25) has plummeted to sixth after entering this month at No. 3 and leading the Central Division.
That lead is gone as the Bulls have gone 4-8 in February to drop four games back of Indiana in the Central, not to mention 10 behind East-leading Miami after being within two earlier this month.
"We have to find a...