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NBA Central: Bulls in Playoff Hunt Waiting for Rose to Return

On April 28, 2012, Derrick Rose drove through the lane in a playoff game and came down bad on his left leg. He tore his ACL on that play and the season was over for Rose and shortly thereafter for the Bulls.

Prior to Rose’s injury, the Bulls had a record of 112-36 over a two year period with the likes of John Lucas III, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson alongside Rose, but all those players have be replaced and starting the 2012-2013 season no one was sure what would happen, especially since Rose was still sidelined rehabbing his knee.

As the All-Star game is being held this weekend, the Bulls sit at 30-22 on the season, in second place behind the Indiana Pacers in the Central division and fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Coach Tom Thibodeau has the team playing great defense, which has helped them stay in games, without Rose’s offensive output. The team is allowing just 91.5 points a game defensively, third in the league.

Offense however has been another story. The Bulls are fourth from the bottom in the league in scoring with an average of just 93.1 points a game. Without the services of Rose, the only player who consistently is able to create his own looks at the basket is Nate Robinson.

Kirk Hinrich was signed to play point guard while Rose is out, but has missed 12 games this season due to nagging injuries. The veteran has also had a problem hitting his shots and is shooting a paltry 38% from the floor.

Over the past month, the best option for the Bulls on offense has been Carlos Boozer. The often criticized Boozer averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds a game during January. However, there is talk of him being traded north of the border for Andrea Bargnani of Toronto.

Joakim Noah is having his best season of his career averaging nearly 12 points per game and over 11 boards per game. That earned him his first appearance in the All Star game. Luol Deng will join his teammate in the All Star Game, which will be his second consecutive appearance. Deng is the team’s high scorer with 16.7 points a game and leads the league in minutes played per game at nearly 40 per game.

Nevertheless, as the team enters the second half of this season, questions marks remain. The team is 1-4 over their past five games and Noah has been slowed by plantar fasciitis. Of course, the biggest question mark is when Rose will reappear on the bench in something besides a suit and tie.

Rose this week said he would not rush his return and would be all right with missing the entire season. His worry and the worry of all of Chicago is he will return too early and be reinjured.

Thibodeau said he would love to have his star player back, but his return is his decision only. He said if Rose was not feeling 100% playing on his knee, he should hold off his return.

Even if he were to return this season, the odds are low the Bulls could win a championship and giving him that much more time to recover might be the best treatment he could receive.

The last thing Rose, the Bulls and the NBA wants to see is Rose injuring himself again.

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