When Derrick Rose went down in the final minuets of Game 1 against the 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs last April, all chances of a tittle run went down with him. But with his return in sight, he may be just what the Bulls need to make a push to get to the NBA Finals in 2013. Without Rose the Bulls have played extremely well with both big names as well as role players stepping up in their leaders absence. Loul Deng has battled through injuries to become an All-Star for the second straight year. Joakim Noah has become the interim leader for the Bulls as he continues to have the best year of his career, as well as his first All-Star selection. And Carlos Boozer has finally started to play like the player the Bulls thought they were getting three years ago.
But what has kept the Bulls within striking distance in the east is their bench play. Players like Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson, and maybe most importantly Jimmy Butler who has emerged as a game changer on both sides of the ball, and may be a serious weapon down the stretch. Tom Thibodeau has the Bulls playing exceptional defense once again this season, and has put his team in a very good position to continue winning when Rose returns. Chicago is currently 29-19 tied with Indiana for the Central Division lead and are only 3.5 games back of Miami in the Eastern Conference. With the NBA All-Star Weekend just over a week away, the extra time off will help the Bulls get healthy as they get ready to play together for the first time this season.
Will Derrick Rose's return be enough for the Bulls to contend for a Championship? There are a few moves being talked about to acquire a back up big man such as San Antonio's Dejuan Blair. Blair would be a great pick up for Chicago if they could get a deal done to increase there size down low to match up with the likes of Indiana, New York, and Miami. But the biggest question about the Bulls future is if Derrick Rose will be able and confident enough to make an immediate impact. Derrick hasn't played an NBA game in ten months, and what made him such a dynamic player was the way he could stop on a dime and make nasty cuts through the lane to avoid defenders. If he is still able to make those cuts and is ready to test that knee, than I expect Derrick will be just what the doctor ordered to give the Bulls a legitimate shot in this years playoffs.