The Chicago Bulls have already been anointed as the regular season champions of the Eastern Conference. People are already reminindg everyone what happened the last time the Bulls won 60 games in a season. Derrick Rose might have (OK, probably has) wrapped up the MVP award with his 39 points on 13-of-17 shooting performance against the Dwight Howad-less Magic on Sunday.
Yes, things seem to be going swimmingly for the Bulls as they race toward their first round matchup with the Pacers.
Except, Mr. MVP himself sees something maybe everyone else is missing. After his team’s 102-99 victory over the (again) Howard-less Magic, Rose said his team is not championship ready:
“No, not yet,” Rose told Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago. “We’re pretty close, but we haven’t proven anything yet. We’re still trying to get there.”
Pretty humble words from a team that has surprised many by rising to the cream of the crop behind the career season of Rose and an incredible coaching effort from first-year head coach and defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau.
Rose echoed what Thibodeau has been saying all season, trying to push his team to play harder and harder with each passing day. That is what Rose said he wants to see before the postseason begins: a full 48-minute effort.
The Bulls were not happy with their effort against the Magic on Sunday. Rose was not happy with how the team let the undermanned Magic back into the game after racing out to a hot start. Chicago still shot 60 percent for the game, but turned the ball over 21 times and gave up 16 offensive rebounds (again, no Howard).
But Rose absolutely took over at the end of the game. He had a 37.0 percent usage rate and I am sure that number was a lot lower entering the final two minutes of the game. His ability to get to the basket at will against Jameer Nelson and the Magic defense put Orlando far out of position.
It was not even that he was finishing all the time. His pass from underneath the basket to a wide-open Taj Gibson helped push Chicago’s lead (almost) out of reach late in the game.
Rose definitely was playing with the energy and effort he and his coach want to see from the rest of his team. I guess that is what makes him the MVP.
The Playoffs though will be a test of how his team follows his lead.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison/Photoree