It has sounded like someone with a terminal illness around the Chicago Bulls since Derrick Rose blew out his ACL at the end of the Bulls Game 1 win over Philadelphia Saturday. Everyone (including myself) has said they are fine for now — they can still get past the Sixers — but the writing is on the wall long term. They will not survive to the finals now.
Coach Tom Thibodeau went Mark Twain and said the death of the Chicago Bulls has been greatly exaggerated, reports CSNChicago.com.
“Derrick’s not only a great player, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great person, but it’s not a death sentence,” head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after Sunday’s practice. “It’s not a death sentence for him, it’s not a death sentence for our team. He’s going to come back. He’ll come back better than ever. It’s just the way it is and we’ve got to deal with.”
“Our margin for error is a lot smaller with Derrick out,” center Joakim Noah said. “Can you replace a guy like Derrick? No. But it’s on us to step up as much as possible. Just cause Derrick’s not on the court, there’s still a game to be played on Tuesday and we’re going to fight as hard as we can and make the city proud.”
The Bulls were 19-8 without Rose in the lineup this season, using defense and good ball movement to win. C.J. Watson and John Lucas III played well in Rose’s absence.
But it’s hard to see the Bulls getting past the Celtics or Hawks, let alone the Heat, without the dynamism that Rose brings to the Bulls. The Bulls and Rose are not dead, they’re just not going to be alive a long time in these playoffs anymore.
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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.
Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.