Several factors convinced Tom Thibodeau to rest Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver during Thursday night's season finale against the Cavaliers at the United Center.
The Bulls coach said after Wednesday night's win against the Pacers that he would play his starters against the Cavs but Rose's performance in Indianapolis, how his team played overall in the 92-87 win and a first-round playoff series that could start as soon as Saturday afternoon all factored into his decision to give the three players the night off for what he called "maintenance."
C.J. Watson, Rip Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah started for the Bulls.
"Taking everything into consideration, this is the best thing right now," Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau made it clear the decision to rest Rose was not because the star point guard had suffered a setback after having 10 points and seven assists in 26 minutes, 30 seconds against the Pacers. Rose looked as explosive as he has in weeks. He drove into the lane several times and was able to elevate better than he has since initially injuring his right ankle on April 15.
"He's feeling really good," Thibodeau said of Rose. "His explosiveness was back. That was a big part of it."
Luol Deng leads the league with 39.4 minutes per game despite a torn ligament in his left wrist. Earlier this season, Deng opted not to have surgery to repair the painful injury, which would have forced him to miss much of the season.
"It says a lot about his toughness, how he cares about the team," Thibodeau said of Deng. "He's always been a team-first guy. He's played through a lot of stuff. We wouldn't be where we are today without him. He's had a terrific season for us."
Thibodeau is not alone. The majority of playoff-bound teams rested key players on Thursday night.
"Normally you'd have three days to rest and get ready," Thibodeau said of the playoffs. "You've lost that. You have to look at everything and make your decisions based on all the information that you have."