CHICAGO — As the Bulls head home for a four game home stand, they do so having played the last three games without the league’s reigning MVP Derrick Rose.
But to all those who questioned the Bulls integrity without him, they gave back-to-back resounding answers to the doubters. Chicago is 3-1 without Rise in the lineup and they plan on improving that mark.
Don’t expect the Bulls to ruse Rose back into the lineup because, as was proven Friday, the Bulls are deep enough to survive without him.
The Bulls flexed their chiseled muscles all night Friday, muscles chiseled by an impressive ability to workout their depth, dubbed the Bench Mob.
Chicago understands the significance of Derrick Rose and his ability and agility he brings to the court, but they also realize the team won’t fall apart when Rose is not in the lineup.
“We’re happy we’re playing good basketball without our most valuable player,” center Joakim Noah said. “We’ve just got to keep it up until he’s healthy. There’s no reason for him to be playing hurt right now because we know in the long run we’ll need him to be 100 percent.”
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t said much about Rose other then he’s not sitting until the Bulls merely need him again. He’ll be sitting until he is ready to go which is the best possible strategy the Bulls can have approaching the situation.
“He doesn’t feel he’s ready to go yet,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The doctors said it’s a sprain. My understanding is the difference between the sprain and turf toe is the turf toe is underneath the toe. Derrick was face down when he got hit so it was on the top of the toe, which made it a sprain.
The way I think is this: Only Derrick knows how he feels. So when Derrick feels like he can play, he’ll play,” Thibodeau went on to say. “If he feels like he can’t, he won’t. We’re very confident that we have more than enough to win with. And somehow there’s this notion out there that this team you should beat. Or that [team] … it doesn’t work like that in the NBA. [In] the NBA, every team is capable of beating you. So you’ve got to be ready every night. And whoever’s ready to go, that’s who you go with. That’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
The Bulls have a four game home stand upcoming that sees them play the Bobcats, Nets, Pacers and Bucks. Three of those four teams have records below .500 — far below .500 in fact.
To play Rose against teams the Bulls can easily handle is an absolutely asinine idea. Chicago is making the right move resting Rose now so he’s ready to go when it counts. But that being said, the nine game road trip may be a stretch Rose wants to play but if he’s not ready it’s okay if he sits then too.
The reason for that is this: the Bulls are 14-3 and have the best record in basketball. The rhetorical question surrounding Rose’s rests are is this: would you rather have Rose play hurt against terrible teams and then never fully recover therefore hurting the entire teams talent late in the season or leave the team in very capable hands against terrible teams and have the MVP at all systems go for the playoffs?
It’s not a hard choice.
“The main thing is having everyone healthy,” Luol Deng said. “You want to have everyone out there every night. You got to be smart. I never question anyone on this team when they’re hurt. When they’re hurt, they’re hurt.”
Hearing Rose talk about his now sprained toe, it may be days before we see No. 1 suit up. But that’s not the worst thing in the world. Unless his toe is markedly better in the coming days there is no reason he needs to set foot on the court in anything but a suit. Even then he should consider resting it up until the road trip when the Bulls will be truly tested with a trip that begins in South Beach on Sunday and ends in Boston on February 12th.
But at the end of the day it’s the games in May and June that matter most and supersede even the tough nine game stretch ahead. The Bulls can easily go 9-0 in this stretch with Rose but still go 0-4 in May when those games carry the weight of a championship.