Derrick Rose’s MVP defense has been cursed the entire year. He missed 27 out of Chicago’s 66 regular season games. He hurt his back, his toe, his groin, his feet, and now he’s torn his ACL. It seemed like C.J. Watson and John Lucas III played more prominent roles in Chicago’s Eastern Conference title than Rose did. And now they’ll have figure more than Rose into Chicago’s playoff results, whatever those might be.
Realizing the severity of Rose’s injury left me sick for him, Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the NBA. We don’t know how much the lockout left Rose susceptible to injuries — maybe all this fragility would have happened anyway, we don’t entirely know — but it’s almost a 100 percent certainty that the abrupt end to the 2011 offseason and the crazy, condensed schedule that followed at least played a small part in his season from hell. If David Stern and Billy Hunter could have come to an agreement — in this four-billion-dollar-revenue league — to save the full regular season, players would have entered training camp in better shape and gotten regular rest between games, and the defending MVP might not have lost his entire postseason with one minute remaining in the playoff opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s easy to say the Celtics are now favored to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, and they should be. Chicago will miss Rose’s scoring, creating and late-game heroics desperately in the postseason, when all of that becomes even more important than usual. But the Bulls aren’t a tough matchup for Boston just because of Rose’s brilliance. They’re a tough matchup for Boston largely because their defense kicks ass and their physical interior is built to take advantage of Boston’s biggest weakness, rebounding. Neither of those things has changed. Chicago will still be a tough out, similar to the way Boston was without Kevin Garnett in 2009.
But Derrick Rose is out for the remainder of the year. It still doesn’t seem real, but it is.