On the night where it leaked out that he won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, Derrick Rose submitted a pretty poor playoff performance in the Bulls' shocking Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Twenty-four points and 10 assists looks relatively nice. Twenty-seven shot attempt and zero (!) free throws looks horrendous. We have reached the point where it's impossible for teams to prevent Rose from taking shots, so the best you can do is make him take a lot of them to get his points. The Hawks did and won because of it.
Oh yeah, and Rose also sprained his ankle reaching for a pointless steal with his team down eight with less than 15 seconds remaining. Not the most MVP performance of the season, am I right? (This is the part where I troll and point out that Russell Westbrook would be killed for a performance like this, even though the circumstances are different and Rose is a better player).
There are a lot of reasons for Rose's issues, and none of them are particularly encouraging. The Hawks defended him extremely well, dropping way back and cheating off the Bulls' shooters and big men to clog the lane. I'd say more on this topic, but Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe covered this more extensively than any writer alive possibly could (though I'm more skeptical than him that these simple adjustments he discussed will work wonders). Then, there's the injury issue. Rose claims he's fine, because he has to think he's superman and all that, but it's clear the ankle injury he suffered in the first round is affecting him. Now, he has a second ankle injury. That's bad.
All this means that there will be one of two scenarios playing out. Either Rose rises above his own pain and delivers, or he can't and the Bulls don't reach the NBA Finals. If it's the former, there will be way too much "will to win" and happy talk for me to take. If it's the latter, I fear that we'll all turn on such a special player because he's not as superhuman as we may think. Either way, I think we lose. That's how narratives work, I guess.