Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the opening game of a series against the Philadelphia 76ers April 29, putting his team in a familiar position. Without Rose, Chicago went 18-9 this season, but how far can the top-seeded Bulls advance in the NBA playoffs without last year’s MVP? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk had different answers in their weekly debate.
Green: The Bulls are done. Stick a fork in them. Sure, their regular season record without Rose is nice, but once the playoffs come, every team needs a closer. There isn’t one on the Bulls roster without Rose playing. The coaching staff is still excellent and the rest of the team is still strong, but without their gun slinging floor general, this team may not make it out of the first round.
Riley: I don’t know. I kind of like the makeup of this roster without Rose’s 20-plus shot attempts per game. Chicago plays the ultimate team ball strategy, and the unselfishness on the squad is unparalleled. I’m not suggesting this team is heading for the NBA Finals, but I can easily see them advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami. All bets are off then, but they still have enough talent to be among the league’s final four.
Green: No way. I can easily see the 76ers finishing them off this round, even though Philadelphia is already down 0-1. Philadelphia’s athletic and defensive-minded lineup is the type of force that can offset the Bulls. Add to that the heartbreaking news of Rose being finished for the year, and the Bulls’ mindset has to be suffering. If Chicago can’t go up 2-0 after Game 2 in Chicago, they’re finished.
Riley: What helps Chicago is that they’ve been without Rose for much of the year. This isn’t new to them. They’ve already played 20-plus games without Rose and have been successful. All they have to do is apply the same strategy hey’re already become accustomed to. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is perhaps the finest defensive mastermind in the league, and the front court of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah might be the best in basketball. Chicago isn’t done yet. Rose’s injury hurts, but the Bulls are still going to be a tough out for any opponent.