[Note by your friendly BullsBlogger, 04/16/12 6:54 PM CDT: Deng and Rose are out for the game. Deng's ailment was reported after Sunday's game in Detroit. KC Johnson has the unfortunate and less expected news on Rose.
Derrick Rose will sit with a right foot injury, the fifth different ailment to force the reigning most valuable player to the sideline. Rose sank the 3-pointer to force overtime and played the entire extra period on Sunday but pain developed overnight. Rose could be seen limping down a United Center hallway with his right foot taped early Monday.
Alex's original preview continues below -yfbb]
On top of having the second-best record in the NBA, the 14-46 Wizards come into Chicago on Monday with only one real basketball on the roster.
Andray Blatche (calf), Trevor Booker (foot), Nene (foot), and Rashard Lewis (knee) are all out indefinitely and Roger Mason (hand) is done for the season. That leaves Washington with John Wall and, well, that's about it.
Since firing Flip Saunders, the team and Wall have seen slight improvements, but they're still awful. Derrick Rose being in the midst of cleaning off the cobwebs, only having played three games in the last month, and Luol Deng's rib unjury could make the game somewhat interesting in real time. But Washington really doesn't have much more than the puncher's chance that the Bulls fall flat on their own faces.
Rose has a knack for going strong after highly publicized point guards and fellow John Calipari boy Wall gets no different treatment, looking at the numbers in the head-to-head matchup history:
What can still make this game interesting is if Rose plays with prudence, as getting to the foul line is how he kills the Wizards. It's usually like a game of bumper cars where no Wizard can stop him. There's almost the will that Rose isn't aggressive, because it's the awful players one need to worry about most. They're the ones most likely to get to their spots late and smack Rose around while attempting to go for the ball.
With a game that'll likely revolve around Wall and Jordan Crawford, there really isn't anything to expect Washington well other than jack up a ton of bad shots. The Bulls defense is still the best in the NBA, but there's always the possibility of "playing down to the competition" toward the end of an absolutely grueling, extraordinary compacted regular season schedule. One that's been so filled with injuries that the Bulls need to get too many at-risk players minutes on the floor together going into the playoffs.
Hopefully, this game is as predictable as it should be. Hopefully Mike James and/or Brian Scalabrine get a ton of fourth quarter minutes because the Bulls get the job done in the first half.
Hopefully, there is no need for drama like Sunday's overtime win over the Pistons. But the Bulls are pretty beaten up and worn down. This may call for rotations that stifle domination or good players just playing bad and needing to turn it on late.
At 46-14, the Bulls have already clinched their division and have a magic number of three to clinch homecourt in the Eastern Conference playoffs -- four to clinch the best record in the NBA -- with six games remaining. Tom Thibodeau is walking a fine line between feeding the need to have his best players healthy come playoff time and developing better chemistry with Richard Hamilton and the core of the roster. Both are crucial to any significant run at a title, but both work against each other.
The answer to the dilemma is unknown, as is the approach Tom Thibodeau will take in these final six games.