The Chicago Bulls didn’t exactly end the first half of the season on a high note.
They fell to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in the final -- and ugly -- game before the All-Star break, 71-69.
The loss isn’t necessarily a surprising one. A lot of teams have players already in "vacation mode" this time of year. It’s like productivity on a Friday if you work a regular 9-to-5 gig. You can’t wait until quitting time because you’ve been thinking about the weekend all day and as a result, you get far less done than you did the first four days of the week.
But the Bulls have bigger problems than not being in the right place mentally before they all get a few well-deserved days off. Derrick Rose doesn’t sound as if he’ll be ready to play at all this season and the point guard seems confortable if he does miss the entire year.
The immediate reaction to his ominous comments was that we probably won’t see D. Rose in uniform again until the 2013-14 season. The decision on when he plays, according to him, is his to make, and before he feels he’s ready to take the floor again, there’s one hurdle he still hasn’t been able to clear.
"Being able to dunk. I can’t dunk. I know that if I can dunk off stride, I know I’ll be out there playing, but I can’t," said Rose as he addressed the media after Wednesday night’s game in Boston. But the former MVP also said he doesn’t feel any pressure to come back right now.
"That’s the last thing I’m thinking about is coming back too soon. I know that it’s all on me, so I’ve just got to make the decision when I’m ready."
So what does this mean for the Bulls? Last week, there were many pundits who felt once the team got Derrick back, Chicago would have a better than average shot at making the Eastern Conference Finals again. But if he doesn’t, the logical asumption is the Bulls will most likely be a “first round and out" team come playoff time.
Tom Thibodeau has maintained the Bulls have “more than enough to win with,” and in the regular season, he’s correct. But the NBA Playoffs are a stage for superstars and if the Bulls don’t have theirs, they’ll be exiting stage left quickly.
It’s a shame that the second half of the Bulls season, which was filled with hope and optimism about the return of D. Rose, and how he’ll help the Chicago Bulls when he does get back, just got deferred in a major way.