Bulls

Derrick Rose will play vs. Heat, describes his recovery process

derrickrosebullsinsider030116.png

Derrick Rose will play vs. Heat, describes his recovery process

MIAMI—Derrick Rose has referred to “the process” many times this year, and while many believe it’s some thinly-veiled nod to free agency nearly 16 months from now, it’s clear there’s a balance.

Between the here and now, and later, the future.

Rose announced he would play Tuesday against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena after missing three games with right hamstring tendinitis. He was deemed a gametime decision after Monday’s practice, and it’s likely the team will leave the door cracked open on the official injury report. But Rose was definitive in his statement.

“I’m playing,” he said. “I’m anxious, but while I’m out there I gotta play smart. Of course I want it back as soon as I step on the floor but it takes game shots, game reps.”

Rose wasn’t quite defiant, but as he’s done so many times, described his process and his thinking the best way he knows how, also while denying any notion he’ll “take it easy” when he’s on the floor.

“Hell no, I’m (gonna) try to go all out,” Rose said. “Feel my way early in the game and later on, or if may be off jump if I feel good. My body feels good right now, so who knows?”

Rose’s game has progressed since a rocky start to the season, as his February was his best individual month since March 2012, the month before he tore his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

“I’ve been through so many injuries,” he said. “Of course I want to be at my peak right now. But it takes building, putting the work back in, it takes patience with the rehab and the treatment and allow your body to react in its own little way.”

His body reacted after that great stretch of ball, a stretch where he’s had more 20-point games (10) than not (9) since the first of the year, where he’s shot 45 percent or better more times (12) than not (7) and in February, more games with five-plus assists (5) than not (3).

“I just gotta deal with reality,” Rose said. “The reality is I had surgery, I had injuries, and it’s something I have to live and play through. Trying to get back on the court as quick as possible. Anxious actually with the way I’ve been playing before I sat out. It’s all about building back up to that point.”

[MORE: Mike Dunleavy showing his value to Bulls]

And in the process of building, he hit a slight snag. Not in his surgically repaired knees, but his hamstring.

“I wouldn’t say pain, I’d say discomfort,” Rose said. “I had one spot that was sore and I wasn’t used to it. I gotta build and be patient when I’m out there.”

He said he doesn’t know how close he is to being a finished product, or what “Peak Derrick Rose” is as he’ll approach age 30 in a couple years. But in the moment, his progression has been tangible progress—and the fact he’s not spooked about his body fighting back should be viewed as evidence.

And with his team at a critical juncture, tied for sixth with Indiana and Charlotte but an eyelash away from both the lottery and the fifth seed, his game rounding into shape is necessary for all parties.

“I love where I’m at,” Rose said. “Of course I’d want the team to be in a better place as far as positioning with the playoffs, but this is the bed we made. We gotta go out there and continue to play hard and make this push for the playoffs.”

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

adam_amin.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

schanowski_article_bulls_pistons.jpg
USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.