Team is deep and tough
The Bulls will lose to the Heat in six games in the Eastern Conference finals. Yes, playoff basketball is different than regular-season play. However, the Bulls went 18-9 without Rose this season, have a much deeper offensive team and C.J. Watson has played well when given extended minutes.
Plus, one of the team's biggest strengths — big-man depth — remains intact. And playoff games are won with defense and rebounding. They also are won with stars, and the Bulls don't have one anymore.
But coach Tom Thibodeau isn't given enough credit for his offensive acumen. This team is deep, tough and defends and rebounds. The conference finals will be tougher than many think.
To conference finals
Considering the competition, be it the 76ers this round or the Hawks or Celtics in the next, the Bulls and their potent "Bench Mob" still can make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
That leaves the Heat, whom the Bulls did beat once this season without Derrick Rose and won another time when Rose was off his game.
But the playoffs are different, when defenses shred play sets and individuals have to put their teams over the top.
That doesn't mean a coach as fiendish as Tom Thibodeau is without an emergency game plan for just this eventuality. But getting past the Heat is lot different than strategizing past the 76ers and then the Hawks or Celtics.
Stick a fork in them
Is this a trick question?
Derrick Rose will go under the knife to repair his torn left ACL, which means you now can stick a fork in the Bulls' chances of advancing deep in the playoffs.
The Bulls used to have the league's MVP running point. Now they're down to C.J. Watson. Ouch! They'll probably skate by the 76ers, although that now becomes a greater challenge.
Yes, the Bulls did fine without Rose in the lineup this season. But the playoffs are a different beast.
Without Rose, they lose in the second round and likely spend the offseason wondering why coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't protecting his most valuable asset late in Game 1 against Philly.
Better luck next year
Los Angeles Times
The Bulls can get past the 76ers no problem. Heck, UCLA could get past the 76ers.
The problem is going to come in the conference semifinals, where either the Celtics' Rajon Rondo or the Hawks' Jeff Teague will be waiting. Having Derrick Rose would have given the Bulls a considerable edge in either matchup. His backups? Not so much.
Of course, the Bulls gamely fought on without the injury-plagued Rose for much of the season, but they will not be able to overcome the veteran savvy of the Celtics or the prolific scoring of the Hawks without him.
Better luck next season.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun