Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau announced before the morning shootaround that as long as there were no setbacks before game time, Derrick Rose would in fact make his return to the court after missing the last 20 games in the wake of a Feb. 27 right knee surgery.
The plan is to keep the point guard on a 20-minute restriction against the Magic, and if he comes out of the game feeling good then he’ll be right back in there Thursday night in Miami.
The Bulls have gone 10-10 since Rose’s latest injury but they’ve been 6-3 in the last nine…but they’ve lost two of their last three games to potential playoff competitors (Milwaukee, Cleveland).
Playoff positioning is also still an issue as the Bulls enter their final five games — as the Eastern Conference’s third seed, Chicago is currently one game above Toronto for the fourth position and two games above Washington for fifth. With his return, Rose gets to not only work himself back into shape but he’ll also play a key role once again in a playoff chase. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his role in this process and how it could reflect his and the Bulls’ chances to really make an impact in the postseason.
What Chicago Bulls Need from Derrick Rose for a Deep Playoff Run (Bleacher Report)
Derrick Rose: ‘This injury is different’ (Video) (Chicago Tribune)
UPDATE: Rose survived his first night back and provided a stat line to be expected (9 points on 3 of 9 shooting in 19 minutes). More importantly, Rose could not be a factor in the fourth quarter and the Bulls had no one to match Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, who led the Magic to a come-from-behind 105-103 win. Watch highlights below.
With the loss, the Bulls drop to fourth in the Eastern Conference postseason standings. Chicago’s record (46-32) matches 3rd place Toronto’s but the Raptors get the advantage in this case due to their leading the Atlantic Division.
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