Game 6 of 82, Saturday, November 7, 430 PST
Bulls @ Celtics
The issue of ESPN the Magazine with Derrick Rose on the cover has been plaguing me for a few weeks. Wright Thompson’s article on the thorny career path of Rose (couldn’t help it), has been waiting while I have eaten breakfast. It has been waiting while I take out the recycling and clip the dead stalks of summer plants. It has waited while I make a trip to the park to run the crazy out of the dogs. It has waited upstairs in the orange room, as the sun goes down. It has waited on the counter. It has waited in the bathroom. The thing is, it’s not all that long an article, It’s not a New Yorker profile or anything. But I haven’t been home enough over the past few weeks. Groceries and errands are hard enough to keep up with lately. This is the last week of the evening class schedule. Finally, I read the piece this weekend, after the Celtics traveled to Chicago to face the Bulls on Saturday night. It wasn’t mind-blowing. As I read the article, I remembered another profile of Rose, this one from May, 2012. In GQ, Rose described feeling isolated and wanting to be left alone. All he’s ever known is intense scrutiny and attention. Back then, Rose was a newly-minted MVP who’d taken the NBA by storm with his mind-boggling drives to the hoop. Now, over two years later, I’ve learned he’s a father. He’s started reading more often. He has trouble finishing books, as do most modern readers who fall prey to the information bombardment of the internet. He played lots of Rummikub with his girlfriend on a recent vacation.
When the Celtics played the Bulls, Rose was out of the lineup. Rondo missed the game as well, recovering from a minor procedure involving removing screws from his healing hand. How is screw-removal ever a minor procedure? I can’t begin to imagine what that surgery looked like. Chicago had Derrick Rose in their lineup for the first two games of the season. He missed the next two games with sprained ankles. He came back and played against Milwaukee on November 5th. Then he sat out on Friday and the following night’s game against the Celtics.
Being a Bulls fan right now holds parallels to what it was like to cheer for the Celtics in 2010 and 2012. Fans hold their breath that Derrick Rose can stay on the court the way we held our breath with Kevin Garnett. The difference: Rose is 26.
The Bulls were in the midst of one of the NBA’s ridiculous 4-games-in-5-night stretches. If there is any sense in the universe, Adam Silver will lengthen the regular season calendar, adjusting the preseason next year, adding two weeks at the beginning and a week in April. Ideally, the 82-game schedule would be reduced to 70. However, the owners will never sacrifice six home games. Instead, the adjusted schedule of 82 would eliminate 4-in-5 and reduce the number of back-to-back games by at least half. If NBA owners want to pretend that overworked players are not prone to injury (or decide that a consistently depleted roster for 41 home games is better than a healthier roster for 35 home games), that’s expected. There’s no reason fans should stay in the dark on this.
Those who see no problem with the current schedule and think injuries are unavoidable and have nothing to do with tired legs are delusional. Certainly, some injuries are inevitable, and specific players are more demanding on their bodies because of their explosive athleticism (Rose, Westbrook, Rondo). However, those players are some of the NBA’s most tantalizing to watch. Keeping them on the court more often by changing the schedule should be critical.
CHI @ BOS
The Celtics played the Bulls. No Rose. No Rondo. Boston was playing its third game in four nights. Chicago was on its fourth in five. The defensive maestro of Chicago is coach Tom Thibodeau. Without center Joakim Noah, Thibs’ game plan is far less effective. Noah had surgery on his knee in May and hasn’t looked like the same defensive force in the early season. The Celtics feature a youthful roster and have instituted an up-tempo offense designed around ball-movement and quick decision-making. The Celtics seem to have taken a page out of last year’s Suns playbook. Pace-and-space is the term Stevens is using. Even without Rondo, the Celtics moved the ball beautifully. No doubt, Chicago’s tired legs enabled the passing to appear even better. Boston finished with 25 assists to only 12 turnovers.
- Evan Turner, starting at PG for the absent Rondo, had his best game as a Celtic (19 pts, 6 ast, 5 reb, only 2 turnovers).
- Five Celtics finished with 4 or more assists
- Tyler Zeller played 21 very useful minutes (10 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast)
- Boston outscored Chicago 36-16 in the 2nd Quarter
- Kirk Hinrich’s tired legs (0-7, 0 points in 28 minutes) may have won the game for Boston
- The diminutive and streaky Aaron Brooks scored 19 of his 26 points in 4th quarter, leading the Bulls comeback.
The Celtics will continue to benefit by playing injured teams, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The Thunder limp along without their two superstars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Friday brings memories from 2008. LeBron in a Cleveland uniform, as he continues to show the young fellas Kyrie and Dion how to play team basketball. On Monday, Phoenix arrives in town. Expect 115+ points for each team on Monday night. Rondo triple double? Yes. A win? That depends on how well the men in green can limit their turnovers.
Wed, 11/12: vs OKC
Fri, 11/14: vs CLE
Mon, 11/17: vs. PHX