The daily Derrick Rose update has been part of the Bulls fan’s life for over three months now. Did he practice? Will he sit the season? How many games does he need to get acclimated to the speed of the game? The biggest question fans need to ask themselves is this: Will Derrick Rose make the difference between a first round exit and beating the Heat to make the NBA Finals? The answer is, as it always is, it depends.
The obvious variable is how good will Rose be when he comes back? If we believe what he tells the media – and I don’t - that he will not play until he is 110% healthy, then he should be the same old Rose. The fearless penetrator that will break down a defense and find teammates for open jumpers, finish at the rim, or go to the foul line. If reports are true, his jumper and floater have improved which will make him borderline impossible to defend. The assumption that he will return healthy is the ultimate make or break factor in this equation. If he is hesitant, cannot penetrate, or is slower, then the Bulls have no shot.
There are two major wild cards on this Bulls team that they did not have the last two seasons: 1) Nate Robinson and 2) Marco Belinelli. Nate can add instant offense, a burst of energy, and an attitude that the Bulls have not had in a long time. Yes there is good Nate and bad Nate, but if good Nate shows up, the Bulls will be a tough team to beat. Marco is a major upgrade over both Bogans and Rip. He can hit the spot up jumper, create his own shot, and is clutch when he has to be.
The Bulls have been a tough matchup for the Heat due to their tough defense, size, and great coaching. Joakim Noah is the type of big man that is needed when defending wing players like Lebron and Wade. He is great off the pick and roll and is an energetic offensive rebounder that will keep them on the defensive glass and prevent them from fast breaking you to death. Off the bench, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich provide toughness that will make life difficult for the Heat’s big men and Wade (because for some reason Wade struggles against Hinrich).
The Heat and the Bulls do not like each other and it shows. But the truth is that the Heat are a better team and are playing at a very high level. The advantages the Bulls have are their defense, their coaching, their hustle, and the fact that Derrick Rose can inspire role players to play beyond their abilities. Question is, will Rose even play this year?
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