When Derrick Rose went down with a season ending injury in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls best of seven first-round NBA playoff series, some people believed the Sixers would now cruise the rest of the way in this quarterfinal matchup. Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is done for the rest of this season and likely most of next year. His absence on the floor should help the Sixers, but fans should keep in mind the ability of teams to rally once they lose a star player.
If you’re a true Sixers fan, you remember 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got hurt and missed Game 6 of the NBA championship series because of an ankle injury. Well, that’s the game when Magic Johnson, then a rookie, put on a magnificent performance. Johnson had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-117 win over the Sixers. As a result, the Lakers ended up winning the league championship.
The only difference is that was one game. It would have been interesting to see how the Lakers would have responded if Abdul-Jabbar had missed the entire series. Nevertheless, Rose’s injury does change a lot of things.
Rose is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. The Bulls all-star guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game this season. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Chicago’s 103-91 victory over the Sixers on Saturday.
Now, the Bulls will have to play backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III against Jrue Holiday, Sixers 6-foot-4 playmaker. Holiday should have a big advantage against Watson and Lucas. However, Watson did play extremely well in an 89-80 victory over the Sixers on March 17. He had a game-high 20 points that night.
Without Rose, Chicago is pretty much left with a group of role players, which include 6-foot-7 Luol Deng, 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-7 Ronnie Brewer, 6-foot-7 Richard Hamilton, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson. None of these players are superstars at this point in their careers. The Sixers should be able to matchup with Holiday, 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-7 Evan Turner, 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, 6-foot-1 Lou Williams and 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young.
Holiday had 16 points and seven rebounds in game one. Brand was very impressive, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The big thing with the Sixers is they have to do a better job on the boards and play better on defense. They have to force as many turnovers as possible. They need to get out and run whenever the opportunity presents itself. In spite of Rose not being there, the Sixers style of play shouldn’t change.
The Sixers will face the Bulls on Tuesday night, May 1 at 8 p.m. in what should be a very interesting Game 2 of this series. They could definitely use a win to shift the momentum with Games 3 and 4 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6.
Rose missed 27 games this season. The Bulls were 18-9 without him. They know how to win without Rose. The Sixers have to remember and come with the same intensity as if Rose were still there.