We thought it would be different this season, but thus far, it’s not starting out that way.
Different in that the Bulls’ superstar, DRose would play, players would be healthy, and Thibs could find a new line instead of “We have more than enough to win with” every time a player went down.
I’ve mentioned before that I have friends, who shall remain nameless, and would never read, horrors, a Bulls blog anyway…who I know were just all too “I told you so” and all that when DRose sprained not just one but BOTH ankles at the home opener.
Yes, I was there. At that moment is about the only time the UC fell silent. Here we go again.
Well, when I entered the UC at 5:35 p.m., DRose was warming up, and I’m sure he’d been there for at least 30 minutes already. He finished up around 6:30, and then like the other players, he headed back through the tunnel to the locker room to shower, get changed into his uniform.
Listen, DRose’s warm up routine was more intense than my Monday and Friday morning basketball “workouts.” During those, I spend a lot of time doing Mikan drills, checking e-mail on my phone, drinking my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Ah, it’s probably about 45 minutes total of actual basketball, but don’t tell Thibs.
How can you fault a guy for spraining his ankle? DRose wants to play.
And Jo had the flu yesterday, and they didn’t get into details, but not sure I’ve seen that guy miss morning shootaround, and then not show up for the game. Yes, Jo stayed home in his cozy bed. It might be all about what I’m guessing is a dislike for the post-game bus ride to Thrill-waukee.
Evidently, if he’s better today (Wednesday), Thibs said the Bulls would send a car to pick him up and bring him up to United Center North (the Bradley Center in Milwaukee).
I dunno, but he’s got a bad flu. People get sick. “Oh, but that Joakim Noah, he’s always sick.”
So Thibs has had no other choice but to employ what’s becoming the Bulls’ calling card, the “next man up” approach. It’s worked relatively well in the past. And so far this year, other than reinvigorating the career of yet another backup to the backup point guard (Aaron Brooks), it’s also allowed Jimmy Gets Buckets to become a rising star.
“Aaron, his defense today was his best game, ball pressure, challenging shots, multiple effort, getting into the post,” said Thibodeau. “We want him to play both sides of the ball. He’s capable. He’s a tough guy. You can see it. He’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up with everybody; he’s capable of playing great defense. He’s a big shot maker, he’s clever, has all the tricks.”
“Jimmy Butler,” added Thibodeau, “is playing great basketball. He’s making big shots, guarding everyone, getting to the free throw line; game’s on the line making big plays for us. It was a really good team win.”
And to round out the team win, Pau played 41 minutes, had 16 points and 13 rebounds (that’s a double double folks).
Taji Woo had 16 points, as he started for Jo and got into foul trouble, but he also had two blocks.
Dougie McBuckets had 12 points and Mirotic had 8 points.
I think Thibs’ tie might have been too tight, adding to his already wound-up demeanor, and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen when he said this, because this is unusual:
“I keep saying it over and over about he and Doug; I love them both. You can’t do any more than they are doing. The thing that is great about them is they come in every day with a ton of energy and ready to concentrate and work and prepare themselves to play. When you couple that with their talent, good things will happen for them. They are still rookies with a lot to learn. If they have a good game, they’re eager to come in and do it again. If they have a tough game, they want to learn. Rarely do they make the same mistake twice; they are aggressive, they are attacking. I can’t say enough about them. It’s unusual to have rookies like that. They bring great energy to our practices. And they can play. Usually you like rookies a lot better when they can play.”
We’re beginning to believe next man up, although I guess we didn’t envision Thibs would employ the strategy so early in the season. But in the end, the Bulls defeat the Magic 98 to 90. Somehow, they get it done.
I saw a pic on my NBA stream on my phone the other day of the OKC walking wounded. It was Westbrook and Durant on the bench, in casts, with scooters to get around, looking more like residents of an old folks’ home than NBA stars. Last night, OKC ended a game with six players?
For once, I’m glad we’re not them.
Beat the Bucks.
Note: All quotes courtesy of Sam Smith’s blog, Bulls finish strong to deny Magic.