The Bulls defeat the poor 76ers, handing them their 24th loss in a row, but after the game, the focus was not on the victory.
Instead, Thibs and his disciples all commiserated about the Bulls’ recent, and somewhat surprising lack of success in the areas on which they typically hang their hats.
Yup, rebounding, getting to loose balls, hustle plays, well, not good enough. The good teams are beating them in these areas, and so are the “bad” ones, like the hapless, yet well-meaning 76ers.
First, let me say, that I think the 76ers are a class act. They were getting after the Bulls, and never, never, ever give up. Each and every one of players had a good attitude, and the post-game hugs and hand shakes between the teams, the coaches seemed genuine. So I really hope they improve next year, but of course, just stay out of our way.
I guess now that Thibs can breathe a sigh of relief that these Bulls, under his watch, were not the ones who got beat by the worst team in the league – he feels it the opportune time to say what he really thinks.
“I am (concerned),” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “Furthermore, I’m always concerned. You’re not going to be great every game. But now we have to change it. To do the things we want to do, we’ve got to be great defensively. We have to be great in our rebounding. We have to do better than what we do now. We’re capable of being great. We’re going to have to put more into it.”
And his proteges agreed:
“We could play better than we are playing now,” agreed Jo. “We won tonight; it’s a good feeling. But at the same time (to) be critical about what we can do better and get ready for the postseason.”
“Guys at times, plays are broken, defense breaks down, including myself,” Taj said “That’s what happens when you are fatigued late in the season. But with a coach like Thibs, he tells you to lock in and he challenges you every time. We’ve just got to get better with it. No excuses come playoff time. Like he said, everyone has to straighten your games up right now. You can’t wait for playoff time.”
With Thibs at the helm, hopefully, they can right the ship, and fast “This is the time of the year you get your house in order,” said Thibs. “You want to be playing great down the stretch, build those habits.”
Twelve games left in the regular season, with the Pacers vs. Bulls in a payback game at the UC on Monday night. Indeed, it’s the home stretch, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the postseason, the real season, the second season.
In a year when the Bulls were expected to join their Philly counterparts in the basement, we can all take heart that their greatest concerns are fixing the rebounding and securing the #3 spot in the East. Not a bad place to be, but they can always do better. And it starts tomorrow night!
Beat the Pacers.