Thibodeau reflects on first half, previews Bulls' second half
At this point, it’s almost impossible to tell exactly where Derrick Rose is in his on-going rehab from ACL surgery, but it is significant to note he did take part in 5-on-5 live scrimmaging during the Bulls’ first practice after the All-Star break Monday at the Berto Center.
"He's doing what he should be doing," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's working hard, focused on his rehab, we just have to be patient. When he's ready he'll go. He's doing fine. He did what everyone else did."
Kirk Hinrich told reporters the Bulls went through three different scrimmage sessions and Rose was able to hold up well. "He was able to get out there, it's good, I think it's something that us as a team needed as far as every individual coming off the break needed to get out there and scrimmage a little bit. I'm sure it was good for him, helpful to see exactly, give him a good gauge where he's at."
Now, live scrimmaging in practice is one thing, especially when you know the other players are going to give you a little extra room. Playing in a real NBA game with all the physical contact on screens and drives to the basket is completely different. So while it is encouraging to hear Rose is playing 5-on-5, at this point his comments from last week about being “far away” from a return to game action are probably a more accurate indication of where his comeback stands.
From a team perspective, the Bulls will be glad to get Hinrich back for Tuesday’s game in New Orleans. The half-court offense has really bogged down in the last couple weeks with Nate Robinson filling in at point guard. Robinson does a good job creating his own shot, but doesn’t always run the half-court sets with the precision we’re used to seeing with Hinrich on the floor. As a result, the Bulls had too many possessions with nothing going at the end of the shot clock, leading to players going 1-on-1 with little success.
Hinrich was playing his best basketball just before getting sidelined with the elbow infection. His return should be a shot in the arm to a Bulls team that looked tired before the break. The team also should get a lift from the return of a healthy Joakim Noah, who looked energized and effective in his All-Star stint Sunday night with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Noah received platelet rich plasma treatment on his injured right foot last week, and hopefully that will bring an end to his recent bout with plantar fasciitis.
With the Bulls heading into one of the most demanding stretches of their schedule, staying healthy will be key as they battle Indiana for the Central Division title and a likely No. 3 seed in the upcoming playoffs. We still have no idea when, or if, Rose will re-join the team, but given Thibodeau’s track record, it’s way too early to discount the Bulls’ chances of making a strong closing run.
The post All-Star break portion of the schedule begins Tuesday night in New Orleans. You can catch that game on Comcast SportsNet Plus, starting with McDonald’s Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6:30.