When Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL in Saturday's playoff-opening game at the United Center against Philadelphia, sports talking heads were near unanimous in their declaration that the Bulls could not win a championship without their superstar point guard.
Fans, while perhaps dubious, pledged their support, believing the Bulls can persevere as they did when they went 18-9 during the 27 games Rose missed during the regular season.
Tuesday night began the test of those two competing lines of thought.
Here's a look at Tuesday's four quarters and what they might tell us about the future of the Bulls this postseason.
It was a surprisingly quiet United Center as the Bulls took the court for the first time without Rose. The energy that the crowd could have supplied could have helped the Bulls, who looked a bit sluggish. Without their point guard, perhaps that's to be expected.
A trio of Bulls led the team with six points each—Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton—while Rose replacement in the lineup,C.J. Watson, had five. Hamilton picked up the slack in the assist department, dishing out four.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: The team-replacing-the-star theory took hold in the first quarter, with balanced scoring and no go-to player emerging. They'll need someone to rely on in the clutch, however. That player will have to emerge.
SCORE: Bulls 28, Philadelphia 25
The second quarter is always reserved for the Bench Mob. The bench players' extended minutes in the second often extended or at least held the starters' lead during the season. It's one of the team's strengths. With Watson starting, the Bench Mob looked off. John Lucas III started the quarter and never really found his rhythm. The 76ers fought back to take the lead with the bench on the floor until the starters cycled in with just more than 5 minutes left. Then, Noah sparked the Bulls with his defense and his scoring, finishing with 14 in the half.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: The bench has to live up to its reputation of being better than the other teams' bench. If not, it'll be a short postseason.
SCORE: Bulls 55, Philadelphia 47
No matter how you slice it, this was an ugly showing for the Bulls. The defense was porous, the offense was stagnant, the United Center was quiet. The 76ers came out of halftime on fire, outscoring the Bulls 36-14. Nothing worked for the Bulls.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: One thing the Bulls could always count on was their defense, and it disappeared along with the offense in the third. The D, frankly, is their only hope of a long run without Rose.
SCORE: Philadelphia 83, Bulls 69
The fourth quarter was much like the third. The 76ers did pretty much whatever they wanted on offense, and the Bulls didn't put up much resistance.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: Let's just leave it at "shaky."
FINAL SCORE: Philadelphia 109, Bulls 92
Series tied 1-1.