Nobody knew what to expect from Derrick Rose heading into his first playoff series since 2012.
But over the first three games of round one, Rose has assuaged any fears of playoff rust by looking dominant and helping the Bulls to a 3-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Most encouragingly, he has kicked it into another gear just weeks after returning from a knee injury.
Thursday night’s double-overtime win over the Bucks — in which Rose dropped 32 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals — was just Rose’s eighth game back from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in February.
Rose only played one game in the 2011-12 playoffs before tearing his ACL, and has missed the last two postseasons with other injuries.
Though the Bucks are a young, inexperienced, overmatched opponent, they were defensively elite during the regular season (2nd in defensive rating) and have put up a respectable fight against the Bulls. Nonetheless, with Rose on the court, the Bucks haven’t had a chance. When Rose has been playing this postseason, the Bulls have a 111.5 offensive rating and a 93.9 defensive rating, outscoring the Bucks by nearly 18 points per 100 possessions. With Rose off the court, the Bulls offensive rating falls to 76.2, with a defensive rating of 89.4, leaving them outscored by 13 points per 100 possessions.
Rose has pretty much been the difference between blowing out the Bucks and getting blown out by the Bucks.
His whole arsenal of moves is back, including his trademark explosiveness in attacking the rim:
And his tough, acrobatic finishes in traffic:
Alos encouraging is that Rose is showing off a suddenly smooth three-point stroke:
The Bulls’ intended starting lineup of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah only played together for 21 games in the regular season, but they went 16-5 when they did. They’re finally all healthy in the playoffs, and in 56 minutes together, have outscored the Bucks by 17.
If Rose can maintain this form, the Bulls are arguably the scariest team in the East. They match up incredibly well with the Cavaliers, the favourites to win the East, and both teams are one win away from a highly anticipated second-round matchup.
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