Derrick Rose has only played one game in the last four weeks. After coming back from missing three weeks to a groin injury, he tweaked his ankle in his Sunday comeback against the Knicks to miss their Tuesday rematch. The "swelling is gone" in the ankle, K.C. Johnson reported Wednesday, adding that there isn't reason to expect him not to play Thursday against the Heat:
This time, the surprise would be if DRose doesn't play. Ankle has improved 3 straight days. #Bulls expect him in vs. Heat.— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 11, 2012
The news after the Bulls Thursday shootaround added to the perception that Tom Thibodeau will play Rose:
DRose did whole shootaround. Thibs said he's gametime decision vs. Heat. Asked if he's playing, DRose said, "Hopefully." #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 12, 2012
"He did some shooting and ran through some offense," Thibs said Thursday. "He did some of the defensive drills and he did the walk-through."
Thibs remained cryptic as to the direction in which the team is leaning, saying only that Rose is a "gametime decision". But if Rose is practicing, claims to feel fine, and hopes to play, it's difficult to see what would stop him from playing.
Rose has missed 23 games this season due to turf toe, back spasms, a pulled groin, and most recently a sprained ankle. The Bulls are 16-7 in those games, are still leading the Heat by three games in the Eastern Conference, and are one game away from clinching the Central Division.
Arguments aside of how much the wins and losses of this regular season matter, the Bulls are getting to a point where it's difficult to ignore that Rose and Richard Hamilton have only played 319 minutes together in the backcourt with only eight games to go before the playoffs. And, though, the Rose-Hamilton backcourt is the most talented and carry the most potential to contend for a championship, everything from their shooting percentages to points to plus-minus while on the court together are all below their overall season averages.