Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
We asked about Derrick Rose’s absence last week. Has it caught up with the Bulls, or were they just due for back-to-back losses?
Steve Aschburner: Rose has been out too long with the mother of all groin strains. Chicago has managed to go 14-7 without the league’s MVP, a credit to its depth and coaching. But it’s a Band-Aid over the problem. Neither the point guard rotation nor the Bulls’ offense was built for this. Rip Hamilton‘s multiple absences (37 games) have compounded the backcourt woes and jumbled what once was a rock-solid bench unit. We can admire the Bulls for holding things together without Rose as long as they did, but going one-third of a season without your best player will bring any team to its knees.
Fran Blinebury: Considering that it was merely the second-longest such streak in NBA history, I’m willing to cut the Bulls a little slack. That said, a Rose by any other name — oh, say, John Lucas III — is hardly as sweet.
Scott Howard-Cooper: You mean the team that immediately before that won nine of 11, including victories over the Heat, Magic, 76ers and Hawks? Doesn’t seem anything is catching up with the Bulls. The story isn’t suddenly that Chicago has struggled without Rose the last couple games. The story remains that it has done so well without him. The loss to the Thunder was bad because of the margin of defeat, not because losing at OKC is panic-button time. And the loss to the Rockets was the second of a back-to-back against a possible playoff team in the West.
Shaun Powell: Once again, there’s no need for panic in Chicago, where the Bulls are guaranteed at least a 2-seed in the East even if Rose sits another week. That said … how much do the Bulls value home-court throughout, especially if they meet Miami in the East finals? I subscribe to the theory that home-court matters little at that stage of the playoffs, that the best team wins regardless. So, unless the Bulls are buying into the home-court mystique, let Rose continue to rest and heal, and let the supporting cast play on. If the Bulls’ losing streak stretches to five or six, forget what you just read here.
John Schuhmann: It’s a combination of the two. Obviously, they need Rose and can only sustain a certain level of success without him for so long. But it was probably just their turn to lose a couple. They ran into a buzzsaw in Oklahoma City on Sunday, and then fell apart defensively in the second half against the Rockets on Monday. I’m not sure Rose would have been the difference in either case. Or maybe they just fell victim to the Film Study jinx.
Sekou Smith: How’s this for an election year, middle-of-the-road answer? It was probably a little of both of those things at work, with the latter being the stronger force of the two. The Bulls acquitted themselves just fine with Rose out of the lineup. And from all indications, he’ll be back sooner rather than later, so I don’t believe there is any reason for concern right now in Chicago (since my last name’s not Thibodeau).