Look, man, nobody here wants to jinx Derrick Rose, but we’re three playoff games into his return from his latest knee injury, and he looks [lowers voice to a cautious whisper] pretty damn good.
While his 23 points and seven assists in Game 1 were enough to pique everyone’s interest, and his 15-9-7 line in Game 2 kept up the intrigue, his 34-point performance last night felt like a breakout of sorts.
It’s not even so much the numbers from these games that are encouraging, but the style with which Rose has been playing. The tentative version of Derrick Rose that we’ve grown so accustomed to watching over the last few seasons seems to have been put back in the garage, and he’s been replaced by the springy, attacking Derrick Rose of old. This play right here will make you think it’s 2011 all over again:
Every play like that makes it harder to avoid considering a slew of what-ifs. What if Rose can give the Bulls two months of this kind of production? What if he just keeps getting better, and doesn’t even really hit his stride until the next round? What if this is the turning point?
It’s obviously dumb to start thinking like this after just three games—if these were regular-season games we might not have even noticed yet—but the fact that this is happening in the playoffs makes it seem like a Big Deal, and that’s okay! It is kind of a big deal, and watching how Rose continues to play as his team advances is now one of the best reasons to pay attention to the Eastern Conference playoffs. Let’s try to enjoy it. Cautiously.