Last night, Derrick Rose put his foot on the gas, lighting up the Knicks for 15 points in the fourth quarter alone. But this is the Derrick Rose who's got a lingering toe injury - the kind of thing that won't go away all year.
Luol Deng is on the shelf indefinitely. Rip Hamilton has missed 13 games this season. We need those guys.
In this crazy, strike-shortened season, teams will enter the playoffs more battered than they've ever been. And victory in the playoffs not only depends on your star players, but also key support from the bench. It's possible the Bulls are burning too much fuel too early.
The Bulls are 19-6. The Knicks look to be no playoff threat. So why is Rose pouring himself out like this? Sure, coach Thibodeau has something to do with this. But home court doesn't mean quite as much in the NBA. If you had a choice between a lower seed and a healthy roster or a banged-up squad and a higher seed, you should take the healthy team every time.
Because the Bulls are a younger team, they can get away with some of this. But all the teams in the league will face so many games over so few days, injuries are bound to mount. The smart teams will do just enough to get into the playoffs nice and warm, then kick things into another gear for the postseason.
After all, the Bulls got home court last year but they didn't get the ring.
And we're playing for rings. Let's keep our athletes fresh.