Derrick Rose figures to be the most important player in the Chicago Bulls' Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat, which begins Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Rose is legitimately the Bulls' only top-tier offensive threat; stopping him could give Miami an enormous edge, and conversely, should Rose get loose and Chicago's defense continue to be wonderful, the Bulls could find a real advantage.
So it's worth looking at how Rose did against the Heat this season in three regular season games.
Short version: he killed them. Rose averaging 29 points per game against Miami, shooting 43 percent from the floor (True Shooting of .528; subpar, but not bad against a great defense). Rose also added six assists to three turnovers a game, and -- most importantly -- Chicago won all three.
That said, when Rose was on the floor in those three games, Miami actually outperformed Chicago. According to StatsCube, the Heat had a +2.35 efficiency differential with Rose on the floor and a -27.88 efficiency differential with Rose on the bench. The bench, or "off-court," numbers are questionable for a couple reasons, the chief being sample size; the Heat had only 26 minutes of action against the Bulls with Rose on the bench. The other reason would be that most teams' substitution patterns are similar, and Rose was likely on the bench when Miami's stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were as well.
But the on-court numbers are a bit more robust (118 minutes) and show a competitive series brewing. The Bulls with Rose averaged an offensive efficiency of 102, better than Miami's season mark of 100. That indicates that despite Chicago's average offense, Rose does cause special problems for Miami's defense, which lacks a point guard stopper; Wade and James, vital to Miami's offense and, in the case of the latter, someone who will have his hands full with Luol Deng, will likely be called upon frequently.