The Chicago Bulls’ chances of capturing their first National Basketball Association title since the Michael Jordan era tumbled after reigning Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending injury.
The Bulls’ odds to win the championship widened to 12-1, from 4-1 before their 103-91 Game 1 win against the Philadelphia 76ers two days ago, RJ Bell, the founder of the handicapping information website Pregame.com, said in a telephone interview.
“The playoffs are a different animal to the regular season, and one of the things you need in the postseason is a superstar, so losing someone like Rose has a big effect,” Bell said. “My feeling is the move to 12-1 is a bit drastic.”
Rose, 23, will take no further part in the postseason after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the opening game of the best-of-seven series.
“It’s not a death sentence for him, it’s not a death sentence for our team,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “He’ll come back better than ever. It’s just the way it is and we’ve got to deal with it.” With Rose, the Bulls were favored to win Game 1 by nine points, Bell said. Without him, they’re six-point favorites to take Game 2, which also will be played at the United Center in Chicago, on May 1.
The Bulls have an 83 percent chance of advancing to the second round, compared with a 93 percent at the outset of the playoffs, Bell said.
Missed 27 Games
Rose, who scored 23 points against the 76ers, averaged 21.8 points and 3.4 rebounds this season. He missed 27 of 66 regular-season games because of injuries. The Bulls won 18 of those games and lost nine when he didn’t play.
“It’s a sad win,” Kyle Korver told reporters after the 76ers game. “It’s been a hard year for him. All the work that he puts in, just the kind of person he is, to see something like that happen, you know it stinks.”
The Bulls won all six of their NBA titles with Jordan, taking three straight from 1991-93 and repeating the feat from 1996-98. They missed the playoffs the next six years and last season lost in the conference finals to the Miami Heat, their best performance since Jordan retired.
Luol Deng was Chicago’s second-highest scorer during the regular season, averaging 15.3 points per game, followed by Carlos Boozer with 15, Richard Hamilton with 11.6 and Joakim Noah with 10.2. Against Philadelphia, Hamilton scored 19 points, Deng had 17 and Noah contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Watson to Start
In Rose’s absence, C.J. Watson will start Game 2. Watson, 28, averaged 9.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds in the regular season.
The Bulls, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, never trailed in Game 1 after taking a 4-3 lead. Rose was injured after returning to the game with 7:52 to play and with the Bulls leading by 12 points. Hamilton said Chicago needed Rose back in the game to keep the 76ers from closing the deficit.
“Philly was making a run,” Hamilton said. “We needed guys that could put the ball in the basket.”