Derrick Rose expected to play 20 minutes at Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. -- After missing almost six weeks following a meniscectomy on his right knee Feb. 27, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose expects to return Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.

"It feels the same," Rose said Wednesday of being on the verge of playing again. "I've been putting a lot of work in, busting my ass to get back and I'm just happy that I'm able to come back to a team where I think we're playing all right basketball. I think defensively we're playing good, so offensively I shouldn't have to worry about it, just come back and play the way that I normally play."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau already had said that Rose would not play a lot of minutes in his return and shouldn't be expected to carry a heavy offensive burden, but his teammates and coaches believe that Rose's presence on the floor will give them a big boost.

Thibodeau said at a shootaround Wednesday that Rose would play about 20 minutes in his first game back.

"Just him being on the floor is a plus for our team," Thibodeau said. "I'm not expecting him to play 35 minutes. I'm not expecting him to score 30 points. Just go out there, run the team, play to your strengths, cover up your weaknesses, make your teammates better. That's all I want him to do."

Both Thibodeau and Rose are hopeful that if the former MVP doesn't have any setbacks against the Magic, he will be able to play in the second half of Thursday's back-to-back against the Miami Heat. The Bulls have just five games remaining in the regular season.

Rose, who has not played since Feb. 23, has been open about the fact that his wind isn't where he wants it to be.

"I'm going to be winded for sure," he said. "Just missing so many weeks, so many days, you're going to be winded. But that comes along with just coming back from surgery. And just not playing the game in a couple weeks."

The Bulls are 10-10 since he went out. Rose acknowledged that he's glad to be able to play some games before the playoffs begin.

"Relief," Rose said. "That I got enough time to actually get some games under my belt. And just see where I'm at."

Rose isn't sure exactly how long it will take him to find his rhythm, but he remains optimistic that it will happen sooner than later.

"Who knows?" he said, when asked if five regular-season games will be enough. "I got a lot of confidence in myself, but who knows how many games it's going to take me. All I can do is just continue to work on my game and push my teammates for this playoff run."

Rose, who has played in 46 games this season, joked that the time off put him in a good spot to be ready for the playoffs.

"It gave me a little time to rest," he said. "Gave me a little time to rest. Everybody else is beating each other up, I'm coming in fresh. I will only get better so it's a little bit of excitement from my end."