Previous ArticlesBulls fail to keep pace in Indiana
A reasonably rosy outlook for Rose
by Sam Smith
Posted on Apr 25
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It turns out Derrick Rose, in one respect, is like the rest of us: Day-to-day.
The Bulls said their star point guard and (my not so hard to make prediction) MVP is listed day-to-day with a sprained ankle for Tuesday’s Game 5 of the first round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers.
Rose took an MRI to get the second opinion of a machine and it was negative, meaning, Rose does have a sprained ankle. Which everyone thought. But it is Rose, averaging 28.3 points, six assists and 5.3 rebounds in the series with the Pacers. Though Rose is shooting just 35.2 percent against relentless trapping pressure the last two games and 17.2 percent on threes. Rose has shot 53 free throws, though just four in Game 4.
The free throws, officiating and physical play—big surprise for the playoffs—have generated much talk. The Bulls say the calls have gone against them with the referees allowing the Pacers to get away with too much and the Pacers have complained they sneeze on Rose and he gets a call. Though if it is a wet sneeze, he should.
Rose played about 32 minutes after he suffered the sprain in Game 3 Saturday, a Pacers 89-84 win, and Rose was limited some, though he did have 10 second half assists and three steals. He failed to finish strong on a steal late in the game, which resulted in a Darren Collison block, or at least that was how it was credited.
Rose dismissed the ankle sprain after the game as not a problem or issue. He was wearing a walking boot to practice Sunday, though he didn’t participate and left for his exam.
After Rose suffered the left ankle sprain on a drive late in the first quarter, he went to the locker room. But he insisted on “walking it off,” the old school method, and returned to the game with a flourish with a two handed dunk on a back door cut. Though he only shot three of 16 after the injury.
You never know for sure about an ankle sprain and how it will react, though Rose didn’t give anyone an indication he would not play Tuesday. The Bulls are remaining cautious and not fully deciding until Tuesday.
“Of course, when you twist your ankle it’s going to slow you down a little bit,” Rose said after Saturday’s game. “If anything, all my shots were on target, but they were just short. Next time, just shoot the ball up and shoot with my legs. When you twist your ankle as a guard, you can easily go back in there and play. My thing was just keep it moving and hurry up and put me back in the game. I didn’t attack enough. If I would’ve kept on attacking, they would’ve had to make the call. I eased off. Just learn from it and next game be more aggressive.”
There was some second guessing that perhaps with a 3-0 lead the Bulls should have taken Rose out, let Rose soak the ankle and elevate it and not risk anything worse. After all, the Bulls could afford to give up the game, and they did lose, anyway.
But that’s also not the attitude Rose has. Of course, you can say the Bulls decide as they pay his salary. Could he have damaged it further? Who knows. But the truth is hardly anyone in the NBA at this point in the season plays fully healthy. There are as many buckets of ice water in the locker room after the game as head sets playing music I never heard of, which basically is anything after 1972.
I happen to believe if you can play you do play, and I personally had no issue with that. I think Rose knows his body well enough and given there was nothing on an X-ray and he felt he could play, well, then he plays. It’s the playoffs, after all. It does matter. And it does to him.
Though this hasn’t been easy, at all, for the Bulls, who are fortunate to be leading three games to one.
The Pacers are shooting better, 41.3 percent to 39.8 percent, have fewer turnovers (the Bulls are almost three per game above their season average), and are shooting better on threes by a wide margin. It’s been Rose and the rebounding that has made the difference. Luol Deng is second leading scorer at 17.3 per game, but Carlos Boozer is averaging just 12 points, though a team high 11.5 rebounds. He’s shooting just 37.5 percent. They are all among the poorest playoff numbers of his career as coming into this playoffs he averaged in 44 playoff games 20.3 points and 12.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting. The Bulls need that Boozer.
But Joakim Noah is returning to form, averaging 11.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. Mostly, the Bulls are hoping for a healthy Rose back in the United Center, where they are 38-5 this season.