Bulls trying to slow down Wall

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
9:25
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Tom Thibodeau doesn't want to see Washington Wizards guard John Wall racing up and down the floor over the next couple of weeks. He wants Wall's speed to be controlled -- the Wizards' transition game to be neutralized. In order to do that, Thibodeau and his players know that they must do something that few teams have been able to do this season: Slow down Wall in the open floor.

[+] EnlargeJohn Wall, Kirk Hinrich
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsTom Thibodeau will lean on veteran guard Kirk Hinrich to stay in front of John Wall.
"It’s unique," Thibodeau said, when asked how to prepare for Wall's speed. "You have to be ready. Your offense is a big part of it -- having floor balance, being committed. Every aspect of your defense has to be five guys tied together. You’re not going to slow him one-on-one. We need five guys sprinting back, making him play in a crowd. He still has the ability to make good plays. His speed is terrific. Makes and misses, they push it hard. We have to be ready for that."

That means that Kirk Hinrich is going to be charged with setting a defensive tone in this series. The veteran guard, who played with Wall in his rookie season, is going to be the man Thibodeau leans on to stay in front of the All-Star guard. It's a challenge that Hinrich believes he and his teammates will be ready for.

"We have to be good as a team in transition," Hinrich said. "You have to get guys back and form a wall and [be] low to the ball and try to slow him down. It's easier to talk about it than do it."

Forming a wall to beat Wall will be a focal point of Thibodeau's defensive plan in this series.

Confidence is solid: The Bulls are not feeling cocky as they head into Game 1 Sunday night, but they do feel confident. They aren't making any grandiose predictions about how far they'll go in the postseason, but they do believe that if they play together that it will be tough for any team to beat them.

"It’s one game at a time, one play at a time," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "We feel that we have an opportunity to do something special. We believe in the locker room, we believe in going far, but it’ll all come down to one play at a time, really. In the playoffs, everything gets really shrunk down to how hard guys play, knowing the play calls and aggression. It’s a lot of heart. That’s the main thing. Without those things, you’re really going to have a rough night."

The last word: Thibodeau isn't buying into the notion that the Wizards don't have much playoff experience. While they haven't been to the playoffs in several years as a group, he did note that many guys have played in important games before.

"I think they have a lot of experience also. When you’re young like Wall and [Bradley] Beal, they have college experience where they played in big pressure games. The rest of their team is experienced. [Marcin] Gortat has been around and been in a lot of big games. Andre Miller has been in a lot of big games. They have a number of guys -- Al Harrington is another -- that have been in big games. That team is well put together. They’ve got a good blend of young and old. You can’t overlook the importance of having veterans on your team. They’ve done that. When you look at their second unit, and it’s Andre Miller, a [Martell] Webster, a Harrington, a Nene -- those guys can start for a lot of teams."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
22.0 3.3 1.5 40.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.4
AssistsD. Rose 4.8
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1