Derrick Rose participated in almost all of Monday's practice at the Berto Center.
"He's just got to go step by step," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's been out a long time. He's finding his way like Rip [Hamilton] has finally got comfortable after going through the extended period off. Derrick is going through the same thing. What Derrick has done in the past, he's gotten up to speed very quickly. Hopefully, that will be the case this time around."
Getting Rose back into a comfort zone is one reason why the Bulls coach wants his starters on the floor during the final two regular season games while other teams are resting players even at the cost of a potential higher playoff seed. The fact that starters have played only 14 games together is another. The third is even more elementary.
Unlike other contenders, his players don't need rest, according to Thibodeau.
"When you look at what the starters have done, our guys up front, nobody is playing starters minutes," Thibodeau said. "They haven't all season. When you look at backcourt guys, Derrick has played 1,300 minutes this year. Rip has played less. Everybody talks about Luol. Luol has only played 2,000 minutes this season. You have a well-rested team. You have to also keep in mind we've played more than 10 guys all season long. That also plays into it. The two things that are important at this point of the season is playing well and being healthy so if someone needed rest we'd give him rest."
What goes around comes around, and that's good news for the Bulls, who had perhaps the league's most demanding early season schedule. A team that has lost 97 games to injuries or illness this season is as healthy as it has been all season and now has the luxury of three days between games for just the second time this season.
Even though Rose remains less than 100 percent, he participated in most of Monday's practice at the Berto Center. Nobody expects him to be playing at an MVP level against the Pacers and Cavaliers on Wednesday and Thursday as the Bulls try to lock up home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
At this point, the best-case scenario involves him getting as close to 100 percent as possible before the playoffs begin.
"We all hope so," Luol Deng said when asked if he expects Rose to be back to being his dynamic self when the playoffs begin next week.