Still, changes certainly have to be made, and it appears the biggest one will be to the Sixers' starting lineup. While coach Doug Collins refused to answer when questioned who was going to start Game 2 on Tuesday, Jrue Holiday may have inadvertently revealed the secret. When asked about guarding Watson, Holiday talked about what the plan would be. He was then asked if Watson would be his assignment. He said: "No, that's Evan [Turner]. I'm on Rip [Hamilton]."
Turner almost certainly will be starting instead of Jodie Meeks, who struggled mightily in Game 1 and was pulled by Collins midway through the first quarter. He didn't see the court again until late in the fourth quarter.
"[I need to] come out defending and try and push the tempo and keep the defense on their heels and attack and try to distribute the ball and make shots," Turner said. "Just have an all-around impact and play the game the right way and help."
And though Collins insists the focus still has to be his team's ability to keep the Bulls off the backboard, adapting to a different Chicago style with Watson at the point is another concern.
"With Rose they average 24 assists a game," said Collins. "Without him it's under 18. So they're a little bit different team, obviously where he's playmaking and getting shots. I think they're going to go to more postups with Luol [Deng] and [Carlos] Boozer. The key is still going to be rebounding. They were 18-9 without Rose so they won 67 percent of their games without him and they beat Boston twice, Miami, Philly, Orlando and Atlanta. So they've beaten a lot of good teams. Our guys know. This is going to be a very emotional game for them. They're going to come out, I'm sure, trying to hit us hard early. The first 5 minutes will be emotion and the next 43 will be execution. Usually in big games that's what happens.
"[Watson]'s not going to be that explosive guy that's putting so much pressure on you every time with the ball. He's a good pick and roll player, he shoots 38 percent from three, [John] Lucas shoots 38 percent from three without Rose. Those two guys combined without Derrick Rose average about 22.5 points a game. They shoot the ball. Lucas gives them an element of speed off that bench. They'll play [Ronnie] Brewer more to give them another big wing. But I keep going back and back and back that it's going to be about rebounding."
Collins was asked if the Sixers' mindset has changed now that Rose is gone for the series. After a long, icy stare to the questioner, Collins asked, "You're kidding, right? You're kidding, right? Are we favored to win this series now?"
Obviously they are not, as the Bulls still possess enough depth to finish off the Sixers, even without perhaps the top point guard in the game and Watson filling in. When the two teams met in Chicago in March, when Rose was out with a groin injury, Watson had a team-high 20 to lead the Bulls to an 89-80 win.
"We have to play him a little different from Derrick but not too much different because he's a scorer, too," Holiday said. "He might not score as much and he might not pass as well and he might not be as much of a playmaker [as Rose] but at the same time they have a good record with C.J. Watson starting at the point. C.J. is more of a shooter. He can attack the basket. But there is no comparison to the way Derrick Rose takes it to the basket. We have to kind of run him off that three-point line and try to make plays in a crowd."
Still, there will be other areas where the Sixers need to improve upon from Game 1, areas that don't really have anything to do with the play of Watson.
"Twenty second-chance points were a killer [Sunday]," Collins said. "On the season I think we give up about 12 a game. A big part of their points in the paint were their second-chance points. We can't give them 103 points and let them shoot 50-plus percent. We can't do that. We have to get them to around 45 percent and get the number down into the low 90s where that's more of who we are. They're 23-0 when they scored 100 points and they're 29-3 when they win the first quarter. They're a quick starting team and when they score their defense is really good. Them and Boston are two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and the reason for that is their bigs are so active."
The Bulls' big men may be even more active now to make up for the loss of Rose. If that's the case, it really won't matter who is playing the point-guard spot.
Lavoy Allen, who started at center in the first game, said his sprained right thumb is fine. "I did it going for a loose ball towards the end of the game," Allen said. "It was during the game so the adrenaline was running so it wasn't that bad. It was swollen, but it isn't so much now. It isn't that bad. We'll just put a little bit of tape on it" . . . Collins spoke of the need for Spencer Hawes to get good looks and make open jump shots, which will force the Chicago big men away from the basket and perhaps allow the Sixers to close the 47-38 rebounding gap from Game 1 . . . The Bulls shot 51 percent overall Sunday, without Rose (9-for-23) they upped that to 56 percent . . . Game 3 is Friday at 8 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
Contact Bob Cooney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Daily News' Sixers blog at www.philly.com/Sixerville.