Hmmm, the Bulls minus Derrick Rose presents some interesting quandaries.
Well as a fan, of course I think Chicago can still win it all. The team I root for is a projection of my sense of self, and I think nothing will keep me from reaching my goals. And by extension nothing will keep my team from reaching theirs.
As an analyst, it’s a little different. I look for patterns to create models that might offer a forecast for future performances. That’s why I was well, bullish on the Bulls prospects. With Rose, the Bulls performance was at a level of a 67 win team. Only two teams in our lifetime have played at that level and *not* won a title, the ’72-’73 Celtics and the ’06-’07 Mavericks.
But that’s all out the window now. The Bulls without Rose played at a level comparable to a 55-27 team. That’s generally not the W-L profile of a team that wins 16 playoff games (eight, sure, 12, maybe).
Of course what goes through my head is will this be the only major injury? The rosters of the other contenders are full of players who are injury prone: Andrew Bynum, Manu Ginobili, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul to name a few. The Bulls without Rose are better than those teams without those key players, but that’s not their side of the bracket.
So who will win? I have no idea. If I had to bet $5, I’d probably bet on San Antonio, but on Saturday night, I’d have put that fiver on Memphis and by week’s end it might be on the Clippers. I think it’s that wide open. If the “core talent” teams (i.e. OKC or Miami) stay healthy, maybe they’ll win. In general though, in a battle between three men and seven, you bet on the seven. Yeah, that’s how bad the supporting casts of those teams are. Of them, only Serge Ibaka could start for other playoff teams. And if one of the core players has a bad night…
That’s why the Mavericks won last year. I think some team will follow that route this year, but I just don’t know who.