MILWAUKEE - Here's what we already know about the Derrick Rose situation:
Fact - The injured Bulls point guard has been taking in full contact for the last week.
Fact - Because of the number of games the last week, much of that contact has come in early workout groups that head coach Tom Thibodeau brings in specifically to get Rose as close to game-like situations as possible.
Fact - He isn't expected to return from the surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee until after the All-Star Break.
Fiction - That all this was learned this morning, as one media outlet would like you to believe.
Thibodeau was asked about Rose's status after the Tuesday practice, and said, "Same. Just working his way through things. He's doing great.''
He was then asked about Rose again before the Wednesday shootaround, despite the team having no sort of workout from after the Tuesday practice and before the shootaround, and all of a sudden it's passed off as a "breaking Rose update.''
The "Rose Hysteria'' continues.
Since he began taking full contact last week, the only two things to watch for at this point are setbacks with the knee, and Feb. 26. As was written in the Sun-Times earlier this month, that home game with the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the ideal time to bring him back as long as he continues to progress, and there is growing speculation that Feb. 26 could be the night that the lights are flipped on for "The Return.''
The Bulls want it to be a home game first of all, and secondly, it's a stretch of three consecutive home games, so that Rose would be able to be around team doctors and the facility if there are setbacks.
As far as tonight's game with Milwaukee, here are the three keys:
1. More hammy problems - Now that Luol Deng is over his hamstring problems, Carlos Boozer is a game-time decision against the Bucks because of a sore right hammy that's bothering him. Expect the Bulls to be extra careful with Boozer, considering Deng tweaked his hamstring in Toronto two weeks ago, then tried to play through it in Boston and really messed it up. It cost Deng five games, before he could return in the win over Charlotte.
2. Throw home-court advantage out the window - This will be the fourth time the Bulls and Bucks have met this season, and the road team is 3-0. As a matter of fact, the Bulls feel very comfortable playing at the Bradley Center, evident by their current five-game winning streak in Milwaukee's own backyard.
3. Big bank take little bank - There's a reason Rip Hamilton has had success scoring against the Bucks this season, including a 22-point showing against Milwaukee the first meeting of the season: His ability to post up the smaller Milwaukee guards. Expect that to be a big part of the gameplan again tonight, especially early on. At last look, the Bucks Brandon Jennings was still 6-foot-1 and Monta Ellis was still 6-3. Hamilton is listed at 6-7.