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John Lucas III and CJ Watson must step up and play at a high level if the Bulls are going to advance far in the playoffs without Derrick Rose.
The Chicago Bulls face a cold, harsh reality Tuesday.
Game 2 of their first round series with the Philadelphia 76ers kicks off at 7 p.m. at the United Center, and so does their march to an NBA title without Derrick Rose.
Without their best player, increased responsibility falls on the shoulders of every man on the roster, but the play of CJ Watson and John Lucas at the point guard position will be critical.
Watson has proved to be a capable backup for Rose, but as a starter in 25 games during the regular season, he also proved he can run the team and get them into a solid offensive flow and rhythm.
But as a starter in the playoffs, the pressure is much higher and the Bulls need Watson to play consistently at a high level, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
He must score to put pressure on opposing point guards and generate his own offense to put pressure on the opposition's defense as a whole and keep them honest.
Off the bench, John Lucas III needs to continue the play that has made him a fan favorite in Chicago. The smallest man on the roster has shown to be the guy with one of the biggest hearts on the team.
Lucas has been able to energize the rest of the Bulls with his aggressive play, and along with Watson, the team will have to rely on him to create an offensive spark.
The Bulls have had a lot of practice and success playing without Derrick Rose, but the key to the playoffs is adjustments.
Unlike the regular season when it's about facing one team and moving on to the next, advancing in the postseason means winning four out of seven matches against the same team.
Teams learn more about each other's strengths, weaknesses and tendencies, and coaches are always looking to make adjustments to exploit them.
Tom Thibodeau has done a masterful job of coaching and making sure the Bulls are prepared in the absence of their superstar. The Bulls should have enough to get past the Sixers in the first round, but it only gets tougher from there and everyone on the roster has to be ready to step up and play at the highest level possible.