Derrick Rose is many things: young, talented, freakishly agile around the rim, and the likely NBA MVP. However, you can also add injured to that list. During the Chicago Bulls’ game four loss to the Indiana Pacers, Rose badly sprained his left ankle and was forced to seek treatment for it in the locker room. He did return to the game though, after being off the floor for a short while. Rose underwent both and X-Ray and MRI to discover the extent of damage to his ankle. Both were negative. Yet, due to the injury the question arose as to whether he would take the court in game five as the Bulls tried to close out the Pacers. Was there ever any doubt?
“It’s not broken, so I’m definitely playing. It’s the playoffs. The only thing you can do is take a shot and see how it feels,” Rose told Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago on Monday. To do so, Rose was willing to go as far as to take a pain killing shot. At Tuesday’s shootaround, Rose backed away from the idea of taking the shot, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported, saying that he “really doesn’t need it right now.” Whether he takes a shot or not, the public will probably not find out until much later.
Rose may not need a shot but the Bulls certainly need him. He has been the one force in the series that has been able to compete with the Pacers’ determined effort and has singlehandedly kept Chicago in this series with his late game decision making which put them up 3-1.
During Monday’s practice, Rose watched from the sidelines while wearing flip-flops (adidas of course). Flip flops are rarely, if ever, an upgrade to anything but in this case they were. Prior to wearing the flip-flops he had been in a walking boot. On Tuesday, however, he was back in shoes and on the court.
Rose clearly understands the importance of playing in game five. He knows that he cannot give the scrappy Pacers any glimmer of hope, more so than they already have, about their chances of winning. Not only that, but if the Bulls beat the Pacers on Tuesday it will allow Rose ample time to rest his ankle.
As for the Pacers, whether Rose plays or not is a tertiary issue. They must win game five to stay alive in the series. If the players are as confident as their head coach this series could turn even more interesting. “We feel like if we win this game tonight, we’ll win the series,” Frank Vogel said on Tuesday. One has to believe a statement like that will end up on the Bulls’ marker board.
Vogel has a good team that has fought hard every game in the series. He likely believes what he said to be true and he may not be wrong. However, giving Rose even more to play for, even though he is fighting through the pain, may not be the best strategy at this time.
Image via @KCJHoop