Thibodeau: Rose is 'getting closer'

981231.jpg

Thibodeau: Rose is 'getting closer'

NEW YORKTom Thibodeau wouldnt say itthats not his stylebut the Bulls head coach indicated that Derrick Rose is closer to taking another major step in his recovery process.

Rose, whos taken part in drills featuring predictable contact as of late, could be nearing the stage where hes practicing as a full participant.

Well sort of evaluate it every week. Hes getting closer because hes taken on some contact, but its a step-by-step process and hes doing well. But everyone has to be patient, Thibodeau said before the Bulls 108-101 win Friday night over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Hes done his work, so its a well mapped-out plan. He goes step by step and when he handles one step well and hes comfortable, he moves on to the next one.

Hes not the first guy whos had this injury and I think when you look at the number of guys who have had the injury and what theyre doing after the injury, I think it tells you a lot about where medicine is today and what the rehab for the injury is, the coach continued.

Its a long process, so hes got a ways to go. He hasnt gone through a full practice yet. Hes got to do that for an extended amount of time, but hes doing extremely well. Hes approached it great. You couldnt ask for anything more and our team has done a great job with their approach, and thats the way we want to keep it right now.

Reading between the lines usually isnt advisable when it comes to coach-speak, especially when it involves injuries, but for Thibodeau, known for keeping things close to the vest, to not downplay things or give his standard response to a question about Rose is at the least, not discouraging.

The coach was outright positive when describing Roses mental state these days: You guys know him. Theres high maintenance, low maintenance and no maintenance, and thats Derrick. Thats who he is. Hes just a great team player, great teammate, hes mentally strong, hes got a great will and so, he understands what he has to go through and hes done a great job with it.

None of the above means anything definitive, but as Roses eventual return to the court looms, its heartening to know that things are still going according to schedule, regardless of whether the Bulls see fit to disclose that timetable.

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?

That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.

The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.

The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.

Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?

Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Watch as the Bulls take on the Mavericks tonight on CSN+ and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. What's Jimmy Butler got in store? On paper, Butler's performance Sunday night against the Grizzlies was nothing special. In fact, in many ways it fell short of his season averages. But Jimmy G. Buckets was on his game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him most, helping them to a crucial road victory in Memphis. Tonight a fast start will be key against a Mavericks team that struggles to play from behind.

2. Dirk Nowitzki is back. The Mavericks are finally getting back to full-strength, and the main contributor to that is Dirk Nowtizki. The future Hall-of-Famer is finally rounding into form after an Achilles injury kept him out of the lineup most of the year. In his last three games, Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting.

3. There was at least some rumblings that the Bulls might have considered going after Ames native Harrison Barnes this past offseason. Instead, Barnes wound up in Dallas a potential building block for the Mavs. And he's looked pretty solid through the season's first half. Barnes is averaging 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and nearly a steal per game in 36 minutes. It'll be a fun matchup watching him go against Jimmy Butler.

4. More 3-pointers on the way? It's easy to say that a 31-point outing will get you going, but maybe Doug McDermott can build on his career night against the Grizzlies. He hit 3 of 6 triples, made 10 of 11 free throws and even added six rebounds and a(nother) block. The Bulls will be able to run more against the Mavs than they were the Grizzlies, meaning more spacing for McDermott to find open shots. If he's hitting early, the Bulls are in good shape.

5. A three-game winning streak on the line. The last time the Bulls won three straight -- earlier this month -- it pushed them over .500. Now they've got a chance to reel off a third straight and again get back over .500. As poorly as the Bulls have played as a whole, the Eastern Conference is wide open at the bottom half of the playoff bracket, so these are opportunities they don't want to miss against a struggling team.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Bulls fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Bulls Pulse