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How are the Bulls winning without Rose?

The Chicago Bulls as of March 3rd are the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. This might come as a shock to the casual NBA fan, because losing Derrick Rose to injury (again) and Luol Deng to Cleveland (trade) seemed to put them out of the race for the playoffs. Derrick Rose went down with his second knee injury on November 22, 2013, and since then, the Bulls are 26-18. Granted, Rose only played in 10 games this season, and was coming off of a devastating knee injury, but losing a former MVP is a blow regardless. In those 10 games, he had more minus games (6) than he did plus games (4) and the Bulls went 5-5. Luol Deng was also having a career year, averaging his highest in points per game (19.0), assists (3.7), and free throw attempts (5.4). So, how are the Bulls winning still? Simply put; defense. Prior to the March 3rd games, the Bulls are ranked 2nd in the NBA in total points allowed (92.3) which is only behind the Pacers (91.2).

Think about their starting five for a moment. Most nights, the Bulls go with Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah. Out of those five, Boozer is the leading scorer of that bunch at 14.6 points per game. You could imagine that their offense is anemic at best and you are right. They currently rank 30th in the NBA for points score per game at 93.3, but any NBA fan that knows Tom Thibodeau has never preached offense. He is perfectly fine with a one point differential because he believes in his defense to win them the game which brings us to defensive win shares. Out of the top 20 players in the NBA, four are Chicago Bulls who are Noah (2nd at 4.4), Boozer (15th at 3.1), Gibson (17th at 3.0), and Butler (20th at 2.9). Only the Pacers have more which is five.

As long as the Bulls keep their steady pace, I expect them to sneak in as a fourth or fifth seed, and be the favorites to get to the second round where they’ll take Miami to 7, but lose to LeBron and company. If I was a Bulls fan, I be extremely proud of the team that, despite personnel adversity, will make it into the playoffs.

Article by Patrick Rogers