The biggest story of the 2013 NBA Playoffs may not be about a team or player that has performed exceedingly well, but a player that hasn’t even been on the court for a minute of action.
Derrick Rose hasn’t returned since he tore his ACL in last year’s postseason. The Chicago Bulls point guard was given an expected recovery time of eight-to-12 months and missed the entire regular season. As the postseason began, it seemed extremely unlikely that the former MVP would come back.
Bulls fans received a glimmer of hope on Tuesday night, though, when Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld reported that Rose might suit up for Game Three of Chicago’s second-round series with the Miami Heat. According to Kennedy, Rose won’t be inserted into the starting lineup, but could play in case of emergency.
Before Game Two in Miami, head coach Tom Thibodeau did his best to quell the rumors that Rose would return when his team got back to Chicago.
“What report?” Thibodeau asked. “I didn’t see it. You guys floating it out there? Nothing has changed with him.”
Rose began the series by saying that the possibility of him playing was still “up in the air.” He has left the door open to potentially come back at any time. However, he was medically cleared for two months and remained sidelined.
Recently, Rose has been the subject of criticism from those who believe he could be the missing piece for the Bulls to make a run to the NBA Finals. With a depleted lineup, the Bulls were able to eliminate the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and defeat the Heat in Game One. Even if Rose could give Chicago a few quality minutes off the bench, he could change the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Unlike Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich were healthy for much of the regular season. However, they have both been battling injuries in the playoffs. After missing the first two games against Miami, Deng and Hinrich are considered doubtful to play in Game Three.
Chicago has missed Deng on the offensive end, whose 16.5 points per game led the club in the regular season. Complications from a spinal tap have kept the small forward out of four consecutive games.
Hinrich hasn’t played since Game Four against the Nets because of a calf injury. In his absence, Thibodeau has been forced to play Marquis Teague off the bench at guard.