The Chicago Bulls are free-falling and playing their worst basketball of the season at the wrong time. Injuries are playing a huge role and could very well factor into where the team stands when the playoffs roll around.
There is no timetable set for when guard Derrick Rose is expected to return, and many believe he might sit out until next season. This makes perfect sense for the Bulls, because there is no need to rush Rose back from a serious knee injury that could ultimately cost him in the long run.
On the other hand, Chicago is on an epic losing streak in which they have dropped 12 of their last 19 games. Rose’s return might be the only thing stopping the Bulls from dropping to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The problem is Chicago has suffered other critical injuries to key players in recent weeks, which has prevented the team from being able to play at a high level. Shooting guard Kirk Hinrich, who leads the team in assists per game (5.4), has missed the last five games with a foot injury and has already been ruled out for Friday’s contest.
The Bulls other shooting guard, Richard Hamilton, has missed the last seven games with a back injury and will not be available until March 23 at the very earliest. Meanwhile, power forward Taj Gibson has not been available for the past eight games with a knee injury, and will also miss Friday’s game.
The Bulls are limping into the playoffs, and their embarrassing 121-79 loss to the Sacramento Kings could be a sign of bad things to come. With the way the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks are playing, there is a good chance Chicago could fall to the eighth seed – a place no one wants to be at because the last thing anyone wants is to have to face the Miami Heat in the first round.