The last time we saw Derrick Rose in the playoffs, he was on the ground writhing in pain, clutching his knee. It was Game 1 of Round 1 as the top seeded Bulls were taking on the eighth seeded 76ers. Chicago went on to lose the series in six games without their young star.
That was in 2012, and Rose has since undergone three knee surgeries, never seeming to come back as himself. The last time Derrick Rose was “Derrick Rose” in the postseason was 2011, when he led his Bulls to the best record in the NBA and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. He also added an MVP award to his trophy case that season — the youngest MVP in NBA history at 22-years old.
On Saturday Rose walked off the floor under his own power with a playoff victory in hand for the first time in four full years. He’s may not be back to the MVP we once expected the world from, but Rose is finally back to being productive at the right time of year.
In 27 minutes of Game 1 action against the Bucks, Rose netted 23 points, shooting an efficient 9-for-16, and added 7 assists and a pair of steals. He’s understandably had trouble adjusting to getting back to the speed of NBA games at times when returning from his surgeries, and it’s typically showed in his plus/minus. Holding his team back while he’s on the floor is not something Rose is used to. Saturday, however, Rose was tied for a game-high of plus-13 with teammate Pau Gasol — someone who came to Chicago because he believes he can win another championship with the help of a healthy D-Rose.
But it wasn’t the box score that told the full story. Rare situations like his require the “eye test,” which he also passed. His explosiveness — which some will tell you his being too explosive could be the cause of his knee injuries — looked to be back, and more importantly, he wan’t tentative to use it (as seen in the highlights above).
Rose attacked the rim like it was 2011, keeping the Bucks’ defense on their toes at all times. But at points of the game they were almost helpless — like Rose’s perfect 5-for-5 second quarter. ESPN.com did a good job charting Rose’s aggressiveness in the image below.
It may have been just one night, but Chicago got the “Derrick Rose” they used to know back — a very, very good sign for the Bulls going forward. As basketball fans, we should all hope things stay this way.
Follow me on Twitter @julianedlow