Derrick Rose was not the same guy against Miami. Really, he wasn't the same guy against Atlanta for most of the series.
Rose was a tour de force in the regular season, spinning and whirling his way to an MVP. He was relentless, and his intensity only increased in the final minutes of a close game. He played 37.4 minutes per game, just slightly the most of his career. In the playoffs? He played over 40 minutes per game. He was the entirety of the Bulls' offense at times. Against the Pacers, for the most part, he was a world above, the gap between an upstart group and an upset, the reason the Bulls were able to handle the Pacers in five. They simply couldn't deal with Rose. Against the Hawks he provided one of the finest games by a player in the entire postseason, a 44-point, 5-rebound, 7-assist, 1-steal, 1-block Game 3 which regained home court for the Bulls. He was masterful in Games 4 and 5, and dished 12 assists in the Game 6 clincher.
Even in the first game against the Heat, Rose looked to be the best player in the series as many expected him to be. Twenty-eight points, even if it was on 22 shots, and 6 assists, not an overwhelming statistical performance, but more a sign of the pace and brutality of that defensive series. But after that? The struggles got worse. And worse. And worse.
You could see Rose was hurting. He'd suffered an ankle sprain in Game 3 of the Pacers series, but had returned to play through it and had not missed a game. But now Rose has spoken to Yahoo! and it would appear that he's recognized the real problem in the playoffs. It wasn't the Heat's defense. It was Rose's body. From Yahoo!:
After averaging 29.8 points and nine assists in the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Rose’s scoring dipped to 23.4 points per game on 35 percent shooting in the East finals as the Bulls lost to the Heat in five games. Rose now says he should have been in better shape to handle the strain of the postseason.via For Rose, there's still room to grow - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.
“I just learned from last season where my conditioning wasn’t up to par at the end of the season,” Rose said. “That’s what I’m working on this summer, getting my conditioning right. There was just fatigue. My body wore down. Just going through the rounds, the first time being there past the first round, it was hard. I’m just learning from it.”
Rose also revealed wrist and back injuries which slowed him. In short: it turns out taking up 35.2 percent of your team's offense, as Rose did during the playoffs, the most by a considerable margin of any player in the playoffs, will take its toll. That's the reality. Rose has been working since the season ended to get into better shape and to learn how to handle things. He sloughs off talk that his teammates need to step up. But that's where he's wrong. Rose needs to be able to be efficient when called on, and called on often. But he can't be the start and end of the Bulls' offense. There are going to have to be other playmakers on the Bulls, whether that's shot making or shot creating. There's got to be some room for Rose not to be involved every trip down. Final five minutes? Sure, let him rip. But there has to be some space where Rose isn't responsible for doing everything. Those drives that lead to all those trips to the line take their toll, as do all the bumps coming around screens, shoves while fighting for rebounds, and shoulders while going for the block. Rose is incredible when he's in a position to be so. But he can't be at that level for 40 minutes a game, every second.
Turns out he is only a man, after all, despite what his highlight reel tells us.