What an incredible (if unfortunate for some) opening day of the playoffs. We had a little bit of everything - close games, blowouts, injuries, clutch shots, and upsets. But there was perhaps nothing more significant to this year's playoffs than what happened to MVP candidate Derrick Rose, who suffered a torn ACL and is lost not only for the rest of the playoffs, but could potentially miss games going into next season as well.
I tend to agree with most of the national commentary surrounding Rose. That is, without him, the Bulls really don't have a chance at making it out of the East, especially not against the Miami Heat. The Bulls are an excellent team, no doubt about it, but Rose is the oil that makes that engine run. John Lucas, the Bulls backup point (along with CJ Watson) filled in admirably for stretches during the season when Rose was injured, but as we all know the playoffs are a whole different animal. With under 2 minutes to play - and the Bulls leading 99-87 - Derrick Rose was a rebound and assist away from a triple double (23/9/9) before an awkward hop-jump step cause him to collapse in agony. I highly doubt that either Lucas or Watson can match that level of production. Instead of being favorites (or near favorites) to win the East, the question now becomes - can the Bulls survive Philadelphia?
In a not-so-similar boat are the New York Knicks in their loss of promising rookie guard Iman Shumpert. Although Iman Shumpert was an excellent wing stopper and capable of impacting the game, he wasn't the critical piece to the success of the Knicks as was Rose (in 19 minutes, Shump Shump was 0-2, no points, with one steal and one rebound). But losing him - and being forced to fill in with the putrid Toney Douglas or Mike Bibby - probably torpedoes what small chance the Knicks had of making this series go more than four or five games. The Knicks didn't really have much of a shot winning this series in any case even before their blowout loss of 33 points to the Heat, which was the fourth-largest loss in Knicks playoff history. Carmelo Anthony had a classic 'Melo first round game - 3 for 15, 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 fouls, 4 turnovers - and a +/- of -35, lowest on the team. The Heat walked through the Knicks and it wasn't even close at any point in the game.
With a hobbled Bulls team, an imploding Knicks squad, a Dwight Howard-less Magic team, an aged Celtics team likely without Ray Allen, an inexperienced Pacers Squad, the barely-made-it 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks (enough said), who's going to stop the Heat in the East?
Derrick Rose tears ACL in Game 1 Against Philadelphia 76ers - Box score, recap
Derrick Rose Out for the Season - Immediate Pain, Long Term Impact - SBNation sister blog Blog-a-Bull breaks down how badly losing Rose will hurt.
Tom Thibodeau has already come out defending his decision playing Rose late in the game in what looked like a sure victory - What do you think, Nuggets fans? If the Nuggets were up 99-87 in a playoff game with less than 2 mintues to go and something happened to Gallinari again (god forbid), would you blame Karl?
Kevin Durant's Last Second Jumper Lifts Thunder by Mavs in Game 1 - Box score, recap
Miami Heat Blow out the New York Knicks by 33 - Box Score, recap
Iman Shumper out 6-8 Months - Analysis of the lesser two ACL tears yesterday.
Jeremy Lin plays one-on-one - Can Lin come back to save the Knicks again? (no)
Well, there's still a series to play - Posting and Toasting tries to find some light in the gloom of a blowout loss to the Heat. There ain't much.
Magic Rally Past Pacers, take 1-0 Series Lead - Somehow, the Dwight Howard less Magic beat a Pacers squad with Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, and Dahntay Jones. Ok, that isn't THAT much of a surprise. (box score, recap)
Nuggets-Lakers Breakdown - Four things to keep an eye on in this series - Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post gives an excellent breakdown of the Nuggets-Lakers series.
Sure, the Lakers have "The Black Mamba", but the Nuggets have "The Rattlesnake" - Benjamin Hochman writes about how Arron Afflalo has become our own venomous fellow, via a christening by Andre Miller.