CHICAGO (MCT) — The mood was rather loose following the 76ers’ practice Sunday afternoon, just one day after a 103-91 Game 1 playoff loss to the Bulls.
There were smiles. There were laughs. There was even a little entertainment, with reserve Sam Young putting on a brief dunking exhibition.
But it would have been a stretch to say the eighth-seeded 76ers seemed more confident about their postseason status now that reigning MVP Derrick Rose is out with a torn ACL.
“They’ve beaten us without him, so we know what we’re up against,” forward Andre Iguodala said. “Then in their case, they can play relaxed. If they lose, they can say, ‘We didn’t have D-Rose.’ If they win, they can say they just play relaxed, nothing to lose.”
Iguodala was one of many 76ers to express sympathy for Rose. Former St. Joseph star Evan Turner noted how he saw two familiar faces go down with ACL injuries Saturday: Rose and Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert from Oak Park, Turner’s former grade school teammate.
“You hate to see anybody get hurt like that, because that’s a crazy recovery,” Turner said.
Coach Doug Collins of the 76ers lamented over Rose as if Rose was one of his players.
“When I saw the kid go down, it crushed me because I happen to love him,” Collins said. “He’s everything right that’s in the NBA.
“I had that same injury. It took a year, basically, but I’m never going to put a timetable on it. It takes time.”
Sure, Rose’s injury could change the complexion of the series some, but the Bulls remain a heavy favorite. Collins has expressed concern about the Bulls’ interior play from Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. The Bulls outrebounded the 76ers 47-38 in Game 1 and had 20 second-chance points to the 76ers’ nine.
Rose’s replacement, C.J. Watson, wasn’t a factor Saturday, but Watson scored 20 points in place of Rose when the Bulls defeated the 76ers 89-80 in March. The Bulls went 18-9 without Rose during the regular season.
“They won some big games without him,” Collins said. “Obviously, C.J. Watson brings a little bit different game than (Rose) does. (John) Lucas will be a part of that. He’s instant offense off the bench. So I’m sure those two guys will be a huge part of what they’re doing.”
The 76ers’ first priority in Game 2 Tuesday is to improve their rebounding. Then they’ll have to ignite leading scorer Louis Williams, who managed just nine points on 1-of-6 shooting Saturday.
One player who might benefit from the absence of Rose is point guard Jrue Holiday. He won’t have to exert energy chasing Rose on the defensive end.
“The same way I put pressure on (Rose) is the same way I have to pressure Watson,” Holiday said. “Offensively, it’s going to be hard to get in the paint against them. What we have to do is just be smart with the ball.”