Derrick Rose

Raise your hand if you predicted the Bulls would finish first in the East this season. As we all know, I can’t actually see your hand right now, but if you did raise your hand you’re probably lying. It didn’t seem likely that Derrick Rose would make the leap he has or that the Bulls would improve from 27th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency (points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) last season to 13th in offense and first in defense this season. Bulls fans could tell you that the addition of Carlos Boozer doesn’t have a lot to do with those improvements, so the bulk of the credit has to go to Rose and new coach Tom Thibodeau.

It remains a source of extreme frustration for me that I see other franchises make smart coach hirings like Thibodeau and Scott Brooks while the Raptors have continually been stuck with a procession of has-beens and never-weres at the position. I don’t believe you can necessarily coach players into being great offensive players, but I do feel there is a strong correlation between coaching and team defense. As you’re probably aware, the Raptors are on their way to finishing dead last in the NBA in defensive efficiency for the second straight season. And so the Bulls are now championship contenders while the Raptors are one of the biggest laughingstocks of the NBA. We reap what we sow.

Injury report

Toronto: Jose Calderon is out and Andrea Bargnani is listed as questionable.

Chicago: Joakim Noah is questionable for tonight with a sprained ankle.

Five questions

1. Do you think Derrick Rose has pretty much clinched this season’s MVP award and do you think he deserves it?

2. Should Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau be considered the favorite to win Coach of the Year?

3. Do you consider the Bulls to be the prohibitive favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals this year?

4. Does Jose Calderon’s injury give Jerryd Bayless a legitimate shot at winning next season’s starting point guard job?

5. Which teams are you rooting for to emerge victorious from tonight’s Final Four matchups?

Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Chicago: Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas

Tonight’s pregame song is a live performance of “Get ‘em High” by Kanye West, Common and Talib Kweli from Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Kanye and Common are from Chi-town, so this works for me. Embedding has been disabled for this video so I’ll have to link to it instead, but I think it’s worth it.