In the first quarter of a must-win Game 6 for the Bulls last week, Derrick Rose came out attacking and had 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and the Bulls were in it down by two. After the first quarter, Rose had 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting, with three assists and he was -18.
What changed? The Cavaliers defense? Just the ebbs and flows of a tough series?
Or, was Rose acting out passive-aggressively because Jimmy Buttler was demanding he rock? That’s what is being reported by Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago.
Rose was never asked directly why he disappeared when his team needed him most, but sources tell 670 The Score that a common NBA problem affected the Bulls at the worst possible time – two alpha dogs and only one basketball.
It looked strange when wing Jimmy Butler kept flashing to Rose’s side of the floor, calling for the ball, as the Bulls’ offense was drying up. Rose was all too happy to oblige instead of waving Butler off and taking charge, either resetting the called play or taking his man – often the undrafted Matthew Dellavedova – hard to the rim for at least a likely foul.
Sources describe a passive-aggressive reaction from Rose that was the culmination of tensions building in recent weeks with Butler’s emergence as a primary scorer.
I’m taking this report with a lot of salt — I don’t buy it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to bet someone with an agenda was selling this spin to reporters, just not sure I believe it. Or at least believe that it was that big an impact.
First, the emergence of Butler is something that had been going on all season, not just during this series. Why did Rose decide to act out at the team’s most critical juncture of the season? Just to make a point at the worst time?
Second, this doesn’t fit with the personality of Rose — the man is a competitor. He fought and pushed too hard and too long to get back on the court to throw a series away because he was suddenly jealous.
Finally, Rose was inconsistent all series and all season. Butler was growing in confidence and aggressiveness all series and all season. Not sure this all doesn’t fit into that pattern.
What is clear is that whoever is the next coach of the Bulls — Fred Hoiberg or Alvin Gentry or even still Tom Thibodeau — they have to find a better way to fit the pieces together in this offense. Not just Rose and Butler, but also Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and the rest. The Bulls were too conventional and too defendable, which was less about Butler or Rose and more about the system that made things easier for Cleveland.