Chicago guard Derrick Rose lies on the court after tearing the anterior… (Ron Cortes / Philadelphia…)
The Chicago Bulls may be the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but their NBA title hopes took a serious hit when superstar Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending knee injury late in their 103-91 victory over Philadelphia in Game 1 of their opening-round series Saturday.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss just how far the Bulls can make it without the defending league MVP. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
The Bulls will lose to the Miami 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 new starter C.J. Watson has played well consistently 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. Or a closer. That's why they won't win a championship. But Coach Tom Thibodeau isn't given enough credit for his offensive acumen, and his system will still feature a point-guard dominated offense with Watson and backups John Lucas III and Mike James put in position to make plays. They will cede to others more often than Rose.
The Bulls also will miss Rose's ability to drive and create easy putbacks for Joakim Noah with his penetration. But this team is deep, tough and defends and rebounds. The conference finals will be tougher than many think.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Considering the competition, be it the 76ers this round or the Hawks or aging-in-front-of-our-very-eyes Celtics in the next, there is no reason that the Bulls and their potent "Bench Mob" still can't make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Even then, the Bulls did beat the Heat once this season without Derrick Rose and won another time when Rose was off his game and on the bench in the decisive later stages.
But the playoffs, of course, are different, when defenses shred play sets and individuals have to put their teams over the top.
That leaves the Heat with the off-the-dribble scoring of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and the Bulls with the off-the-dribble scoring of . . . well . . . uh . . .
That doesn't mean that a coach as fiendish as Tom Thibodeau doesn't have an open-in-case-of-emergency game plan for just this eventuality. But getting past the Heat is a lot different than strategizing past the 76ers and then the Hawks or Celtics.
[Updated at 1:27 p.m.:
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
The Bulls can get past the 76ers, no problem. Heck, UCLA could get past the 76ers, no problem.
The problem is going to come in the conference semifinals, where either Boston's Rajon Rondo or Atlanta's 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, Chicago has gamely fought on without the injury-plagued Rose for much of the season, but the Bulls 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.
George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel
Is this a trick question?
Derrick Rose will go under the knife to repair his torn ACL, which means that you can now 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 Philadelphia 76ers, although that now becomes a greater challenge.
Yes, the Bulls did fine without Rose in the lineup — they tied for the best record in the league despite Rose missing 27 games due to injury. But the playoffs are a different beast, with no cupcakes on the schedule.
Without Rose, they lose in the second round, probably to Atlanta, and likely spend the off-season wondering why Coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t protecting his most valuable asset late in Game 1 against Philly.]