- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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"That's their moment," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after Monday's practice. "We'll be in the locker room."
Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who will be playing in his first regular-season game in over a year and a half, does not think it will be tough to stay focused.
"Not at all," Rose said. "That's their ceremony, not ours. If we were getting our rings there would be a little bit of a distraction, but for us we know that we got to stay focused, come together as a team, and really take their first hit because they're definitely going to be on charge."
Bulls forward Luol Deng said the process of ring night is a difficult one for the opposing team to prepare for. Deng already has been through this once in Miami when the Heat received their championship rings before the 2006-07 opener before the Bulls won in a rout.
"It's tough," Deng said. "You got to go through the whole ceremony. It's a great day for them. The fans are live, the fans are excited. Mentally, you just got to be ready. It just takes forever for the game to start. You just got to stay ready and stay locked in."
Thibodeau didn't want to divulge what the Bulls would do when they went back into the locker room but aside from going over the game plan again, the moment will serve as motivation for a Bulls team that badly wants to dethrone Miami in the Eastern Conference.
"It's different because after you warm up you go back to the locker room," Deng said. "I think you've just got to find ways to stay loose. You don't find yourself in that kind of situation that much. You get a few minutes when you come back out to warm up, but you've just got to do a good job of staying with your routine."
Thibodeau has held to the mantra of Tuesday's showdown just being another game in the long NBA schedule. But Joakim Noah said Sunday that this game will be different playing against the defending champs. Either way, Thibodeau is hoping the delay won't hurt any rhythm his team is trying to get into.
"I had the good fortune to be part of one [ring ceremony with Boston]," Thibodeau said. "In the NBA there's always something. I think the challenge is always to block whatever distraction there may be out and to lock in. That's why you want to establish your habits of how you get ready. Sometimes it's late starts, early starts, back to backs. Whatever it is you just got to get yourself ready to play. Hopefully, you have the mental toughness and the discipline to prepare yourself properly."
After sitting out for a year and a half, Rose is just excited to be back on the floor.
"I'm looking forward to it, but I'm going to take it as any other game," he said. "It's the first game, it's the next game of course, and we're just trying to sharpen things up, play the same way and just get our chemistry a little bit better."