Mar 24, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) sits on the bench during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Rose Out Yet Again as Bulls Battle Nuggets; Championship Reality Check

Bulls vs. Nuggets — 7pm on NBA TV

BULLS MAGIC NUMBER

14.5

Sadly, the fact that Derrick Rose isn’t playing tonight isn’t shocking anymore, it’s just getting frustrating.

Everyone knows that Rose needs to rest, and there isn’t a single soul in Chicago that would challenge you on that, but although everyone acknowledges that rest is needed, they aren’t holding their tongues anymore and expressing frustration with Rose sitting isn’t taboo anymore.

But he’s going to continue to sit as long as he needs to and while people are voicing their displeasure with him sitting, there is a much larger elephant in the room no on wants to address.

Derrick Rose’s groin injury is serious.

Maybe it’s not just the groin but rather a combination of things that have all joined forces to keep Rose out, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that this is a serious injury (or combo of) and if it wasn’t Rose wouldn’t be going on his second week of sitting.

No one wants Rose rushed back, we get that. But at what point does the shy kid in the class raise his hand and suggest what we’ve been trying to avoid all along: the utter derailment of this championship season.

Now that seems dramatic to say that the season is about to be derailed, but now is not what needs to be a unit of measurement, it’s the postseason and teams play a different style of basketball then and things get real, weakness gets exposed and only the best with their best rise to the top.

We addressed this earlier int he week when we said that Rose may not be ready for the playoffs. Don’t get hyper and take it the wrong way and make it out to say he’s not going to physically play (although the more radical extreme are beginning to suggest it). but the notion that he won’t be ready should be interpreted as Rose may not be able to shake off the rust if he sits from now until April.

Chicago needs Rose healthy to contend with the Heat. We were all enthralled with the John Lucas production that thwarted the Heat this month, but to honestly believe that the Bulls can take out the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals without Rose when they couldn’t even do it with him last year is a little ignorant.

Fandom is one thing, facts are another.

Yes the Bulls added Rip Hamilton but he’s played about half a minute this year, and if Rose sits it’s not an evolved team its a team sans it’s superstar. Chicago may be able to take two games, three max without Rose but without him, it’s going to be one heck of a Windy CIty miracle if the Bulls make it to the finals.

And if the Bulls make it to the Finals without Rose, think about how much that deflates his mythology and his legend. He’s supposed to be Michael 2.0, and if the Bulls do something they never did without Jordan without Rose, then all of the credibility Rose is building with the harsh critics get reset to square one.

This is not to suggest that Chicago should tank without Rose either. I’ve been the strongest supporter of who this team is without Rose and have fiercely defended this team from critics who were ready to write a Rose-less Bulls team off months ago. They can win, and I just said they are in the Eastern Conference Finals (possibly) without Rose, but if Rose doesn’t play, it’s a huge blow and expectations need to be lowered even if just slightly.

But the more and more this team learns to play together without Rose, the stronger they will be when e comes back and if the unthinkable happens and he misses the playoffs, this team isn’t going to crumble as quickly as critics are saying.

This team WILL NOT lose to the Knicks. This team MAY NOT lose to the Pacers/Hawks and this team. But after that, it’s hard to see this team battling a Heat team that will be injected with swagger-roids if they smell the blood in the Rose-less water.

Now, I’m not hitting the panic button nor am I  closing my eyes and implying I want someone else to do it for me. This is just a reality check. Last season we were wasted on the notion that Chicago could sweep its way to the Finals and when snags were had along the way, it was a violent wakeup call that no one recovered from.

But wouldn’t that just be so Chicago if the Bulls flip the script against the worst possible scenario and won a championship. Frankly, even if he didn’t play a single minute, Rose would be just as happy as if he’d played every minute.

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