HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What else do you need to see from Derrick Rose to believe that if nothing else, his name should be the first one out of your mouth when we start the MVP conversation?
We understand that the analytical crowd has presented a very impressive case as to why Rose should not take home that trophy. But we watched him shred the Celtics last night on TNT, doing the same thing to one of the NBA’s best defensive teams that he has done to basically every team (and everyone) in the league all season.
And we just can’t escape the fact that our eyes keep seeing something that the stat crowd apparently is missing. If you’re the best player on the floor every night and your team continues to beat back the competition and is a strong candidate to be the league’s best, then shouldn’t Rose’s MVP case be closed by now? The Bulls are 58-20 and barring a catastrophe, they’ll finish atop the Eastern Conference standings.
At least TNT’s Kevin McHale and Steve Smith (above) agree with us about Rose.
Celtics star Kevin Garnett seemed to agree with us about Rose, “They’re not chanting MVP for nothing, his play is doing all the talking,” and the Bulls, “We got our [behind] kicked. I haven’t recalled that in a while,” after last night’s 97-81 thumping at the United Center.
Rose should have a much easier time wrestling away that MVP trophy away from two-time winner LeBron James than the Bulls will in trying to unseat the Celtics as the Eastern Conference champs.
As thick as the MVP race has become this season — Rose, James, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant‘s names are the most common among the top four — the Eastern Conference playoff chase should be even thicker.
The Bulls starting that race in the pole position is just one more reason Rose is as deserving as anyone of the MVP votes that are sure to come his way.
This also means the Bulls will enter the postseason with pressure few of them can comprehend. This group still has to win its first playoff series, an added pressure that David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune put in perfect context:
Deservedly, the Bulls remain the favorites in the East. But realistically, at this point, the Bulls have to advance to the Finals to meet soaring expectations they will try hard to ignore.
For a team still looking to win its first playoff series in the Derrick Rose Era, that’s considerable pressure. And uncertainty can be the residue of pressure. It’s the Bulls’ only unknown.
“But it’s good pressure,” [Joakim] Noah said. “Being the No. 1 seed is a positive. You play Game 7, you’re at home. That’s the way we should see it, not as added pressure.”
Nobody asks how the Celtics will handle pressure.
The Heat won’t go away without a whimper. The Magic pose a challenge because of Dwight Howard. But on every Eastern Conference playoff team’s GPS, the directions to the Finals still go through Boston.
Not that Chicagoans seem worried about the direction of the Bulls, as [Celtics coach Doc] Rivers found out during a recent trip home.
“I was in town last week to see my son (Austin) play here (in the McDonald’s All-American game) and going through the airport, all the trash-talking,” Rivers said. “I’m like, ‘My gosh, Chicago is awake again. That’s nice.”’
Chicago is awake again because of Derrick Rose!