Chicago Bulls: JimmyButler

Poor focus doesn't derail Bulls

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
10:47
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- After all this time to consider playoff possibilities, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau still claims he's not crunching the numbers or sizing up ideal playoff scenarios.

It seemed clear he has at least taken a peek at matchup possibilities, but since the calculations were daunting, he preferred to stay focused on things under the team's control.

Although the Bulls defeated the Milwaukee Bucks handily Friday, 102-90, they struggled to stay focused for the full 48 minutes. The Bucks cut the deficit to eight in the final quarter before the Bulls finally got inspired to close out the victory.

"We're looking at how [victories] are done," said Taj Gibson, who scored 13 points. "We're trying to sharpen our weapons, as you would say, but at times, it's going to be tough. At times, there are going to be plays that are rough because guys' bodies are really feeling it. It's late in the season, but you have to keep pushing forward."

If Friday's contest was about fine-tuning for playoff time, the fact the Bulls had seven players score in double figures made it seem clear the goal is to make sure everybody is involved down the stretch.

So would the Bulls be ready if the playoffs started tomorrow?

"Well, [the playoffs] don't start tomorrow, so we're not concerned with that," Thibodeau said. "We're concerned with [each night] and our improvement, and I think the important thing is to go step by step. I think once you start looking ahead, it takes you off of what you really need to concentrate on and that's your improvement and getting ready for that particular night."

Saturday night should have more of a playoff feel since the matchup with the Washington Wizards is a potential first-round preview. The Wizards look to be in line for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Bulls and Toronto Raptors are tied for the third spot. The third and sixth seeds face each other in the opening round.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5