The Chicago Bulls walked into Monday night’s meeting with the Boston Celtics leading the Central Division with a record of 4-2, but after trailing for the entire game and limping out of the United Center with a loss it begs the question…
“Can the Bulls keep pace with the top teams in the East without Derrick Rose?”
With the Eastern Conference noticeably stronger, no return date etched in stone for the rehabbing Rose, and 75 regular season games still yet to be played, Chicago has a long road ahead. But if there’s one thing the Bulls have learned without their floor leader and former league MVP, its that while their offense might sell tickets, its their defense that wins games.
Since the 2010 season when Tom Thibodeau signed on as head coach defense has been Chicago’s calling card, and this season has been no different. Without Rose the Bulls have relied solely on defense and balanced scoring. Loul Deng (17.7 ppg) is one of five Bulls’ players scoring in double figures on a nightly basis. And four of those five players are shooting at least 45.7 percent from the field. Despite the loss Monday night its been this balance offensively and discipline defensively that has Chicago currently sitting one game above .500.
However, if the Bulls plan to remain in the conversation and attempt to battle for supremacy in the east they’re going to have to continue to work. That means steady contribrutions from Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton, and Joakim Noah, along with Nate Robinson (filling in for the injured Kirk Hinrich) coupled with solid team defense night in and night out.
If the Bulls can keep this formula throughout the season they might just have enough to weather the storm until Rose returns.