Sekou Smith: ‘Bulls Are Favorite To Win Whole Thing’

From John Wall (wrist) to Chris Paul (hamstring), from Mike Conley (face) to Kyle Lowry (ankle), a lot of point guards have been injured in the NBA playoffs – and the second round just started.

“It’s strange,” NBA.com analyst Sekou Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s the deepest the point guard position has been in all the years I’ve covered the league. To see these guys go down with all these different things (has been strange).”

Some point guards have been able to play through their ailments. Mike Conley, for example, missed Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals but returned for Game 2 on Tuesday, finishing with 22 points and three assists in a 97-90 win at Golden State. The Warriors entered the game 42-2 at home this season.

“I mean, what a performance from Mike Conley,” Smith said. “It looked like his face has been kicked in and he’s out there playing with that mask on and going off – shooting the ball, scoring, finding guys, just playing great. If you’re going to win at a high level right now in this league, you’re going to have to have a point guard who can come out there and direct traffic for you and really orchestrate for you what it is you like to do. This postseason will, I think, highlight that. We got an MVP in Steph Curry, who’s a point guard. Doc Rivers (said) that Chris Paul is 50-50 for Game 2 (against Houston). You’re getting a chance to see all of it on the biggest stage night after night, and it’s really interesting just to see the differences and the nuances of all these different players. They play that same position, but all play it in their own way.”

Interestingly enough, of all the point guards who are injured, Derrick Rose is not one of them. In fact, Rose averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals in Chicago’s first-round win over Milwaukee.

“Listen, I love the way he’s playing under these new circumstances,” Smith said. “A few weeks ago, I said it on NBA TV that he was my wild card for the entire playoffs – for the entire thing, not just that series. If Derrick Rose can play at the level we’ve seen him play throughout the course of these playoffs when he’s really good – when he’s had a little rest and his body’s refreshed – he makes the Chicago Bulls, to me, the odds on favorite to win the whole thing. And I say that with Golden State or whoever comes out of the West because I think (the Bulls) have so much balance on the perimeter. And then inside, Pau Gasol’s played fantastic. They’ve got depth, they play defense, they got a great coach and then they got a guy – you saw it the other night. Derrick Rose is fearless in the way he attacks an opposing defense when he’s playing the way he’s playing now.”

Rose had 25 points, five assists and five rebounds in the Bulls’ 99-92 road win over the Cavaliers in Game 1 on Monday.

“He doesn’t care if LeBron James is on him,” Smith said. “He doesn’t care who it is. He’s going to play and attack the other team in a way that allows his group to have the advantage. If he can do it consistently, I really believe it. I think that the Bulls are the odds on favorite to win the whole thing.”

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