It’s an injury which made the NBA collectively wince. Derrick Rose requiring yet another knee surgery after suffering a torn meniscus for the second year in a row.
After the Fightback, now the Flooring and Frustration. Lots of F-words in and around the Chicago Bulls. At this point, no-one knows if the former league MVP will be out for six days or six months but it is a hammer blow.
In the immediate aftermath, many rushed to write off the Bulls championship hopes. Understandably so, with the loss of their starting point guard. Now out to 13.00 for the title and down to 6.50 for the East, it’s a measure of the impact that even a reduced Rose has on the court.
It’s probably true to say that in his prolonged absence, Chicago won’t be lifting any silverware. That, however, says more about their depth. Crunching the numbers, it shouldn’t impact massively on their output on the floor – and whether they’re worth a punt on any given night.
Minus their star, the Bulls are 7-5 this term so far compared with 29-17 with him in the line-up. Their midweek loss to Charlotte was disappointing but it came with the emotional trauma of taking in the news of their colleague’s demise.
Up to Wednesday, Rose had played 51.3% of his team’s minutes – with him involved, Chicago’s offensive efficiency increased by a mere 0.6 points and their defensive mark was up just 0.1. With Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich taking over the primary playmaking role, there should be no huge drop.
A fairer barometer of where the Bulls stand comes on Friday when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to the United Center.
The T-Wolves got a huge lift from the return of Kevin Garnett after over seven years away when they demolished slumping Washington on Wednesday.
He only had five points and eight rebounds but his impact on the psyche of his young team-mates was tangible.
If Chicago has lost anything, it is the will and drive of Rose to bloom every night. But they are a resilient group with a tough coach. So don’t expect them to wilt and die just yet.
With Russell Westbrook exploding from his All Star form, even the absence of Kevin Durant hasn’t knocked off the Thunder unduly despite their overtime loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.
It could be a massacre on Sunday when they go to the LA Lakers who are fast becoming the butt of the NBA’s jokes. A handicap of -13.5 and a points total of over 210.5 aren’t out of range.
Best bet: Go under 192.5 total points in Chicago - Minnesota at 2.18
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