Several factors convinced coach Tom Thibodeau to rest Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver for the regular-season finale Thursday against the Cavaliers at the United Center.
Thibodeau said after the 92-87 victory Wednesday against the Pacers that he would play his starters against the Cavs, but Rose’s performance in Indianapolis, the Bulls’ overall effort and a first-round playoff series that could start Saturday afternoon all factored into his decision to give the three players the night off for “maintenance.”
C.J. Watson, Rip Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah started.
“Taking everything into consideration, this is the best thing right now,” Thibodeau said.
He made it clear that the decision to rest Rose wasn’t because he had suffered a setback after getting 10 points and seven assists in 261/2 minutes against the Pacers. Rose looked as explosive as he has in weeks. He drove several times and was able to elevate better than he has since initially injuring his right ankle April 15.
“[Rose is] feeling really good,” Thibodeau said. “His explosiveness was back. That was a big part of it.”
Deng leads the league with 39.4 minutes per game despite a torn ligament in his left wrist. Earlier this season, Deng opted not to have surgery to repair the painful injury, which would have forced him to miss much of the season.
“It says a lot about his toughness, how [Deng] cares about the team,” Thibodeau said. “He’s always been a team-first guy. He’s played through a lot of stuff. We wouldn’t be where we are today without him. He’s had a terrific season.”
The majority of playoff-bound teams rested key players Thursday.
“Normally you’d have three days to rest and get ready,” Thibodeau said of the playoffs.
“You’ve lost that. You have to look at everything and make your decisions based on all the information that you have.”
NOTE: An allotment of tickets released by the NBA for Game 1 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series Saturday are on sale at Bulls.com.