On Wednesday, April 25, the Chicago Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers 92-87. Entering the game, the team already knew they had the No. 1 Eastern Conference seed but it didn't stop them from playing a competitive game. The Bulls still need one more win to gain the overall No. 1 seed and they will have the opportunity on Thursday, April 26.
The Bulls are slowly coming together but they have a ways to go before they are playing like a championship team.
Here's a few highlights from Wednesday's win.
Rose returns, getting up to speed
Rose started against the Pacers and it feels like he's almost "back." He still looks a little rusty but you could feel his intensity on Wednesday. Rose had 10 points and from the field, he was 3 for 11. At one point in the first half, he rubbed his shoulder after a play, but he immediately shook it off.
Bull head coach Tom Thibodeau seemed pleased with Rose's play and said he's, "A lot more explosive. I just think he's gotten more comfortable. He was out a long period of time. When he comes back, he usually gets up to speed pretty quickly. He said this morning that he was feeling a lot better and that's after two days of practice, too. That's a real good sign, we're encouraged by that."
Starting Five is Back Together
With Rose's return, this also means the starting five is back together. As the postseason is about to begin, this team dynamic is still somewhat unfamiliar playing together on a continuous basis. Rip Hamilton continues to improve every game (but he did struggle with only four points against the Pacers and with Rose's presence); Luol Deng continues to play through his wrist pain (nine points) and Carlos Boozer continues to show up (16 points and nine rebounds).
The chemistry is obviously still there between the five, now they have to get used to their field general's return. They need to continue playing with the same intensity as they did without Rose.
For Thursday's game against Cleveland, Thibodeau has said it will be the same starting lineup but how long they'll stay on the floor remains to be seen.
Bench Mob Steps Up
Now that the starting five is back in place, the Bench Mob can also get back to business. While their play was vital to the team with Rose's absence as well as the other players' time away from the court, it's nice to see how these players add to the game, reminding you of this team's depth.
Against the Pacers, Kyle Korver came off the bench and had a good game with his team-leading 20 points. He had several great plays in the fourth quarter and went four for six on three-pointers; Korver played for 22 minutes.
Also scoring in double digits for the Bench Mob was Taj Gibson with 10 points. He's gained a lot of confidence this season and is a great contributor.
The Bulls will end their regular season on Thursday, April 26 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Look for the same intensity from the team as Wednesday night. Maybe the Bulls are getting their magic back-just in time.
As a lifelong Bulls fan and Chicago resident, the Derrick Rose era has been a good one.
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