Tom Thibodeau has been barking out a simple directive to his Chicago Bulls team throughout the first few weeks of training camp.
The mantra also serves as the bedrock for some of the new wrinkles in Thibodeau's offense. With Derrick Rose back in the fold, Thibodeau wants to use Rose's speed to the Bulls' advantage whenever possible.
"I think the important thing is to be well-balanced," Thibodeau said recently. "Obviously, you want to get as many easy baskets as you can. So how do you get them? And the obvious (answer) is the fast break. I think the quicker you move the ball, the quicker you make decisions, get your body in motion, that also leads to second shots. We've always been a high-assist team, it's a five-man offense, five-man defense and that's the way we want to play. So if we can beat the defense down the floor we want to attack before they get set."
But Thibodeau and his team know that there will be times they can't simply zip past everybody. So what they plan to do in those situations is use a portion of the offense that the San Antonio Spurs have popularized over time -- reading and reacting to what else is going on around the floor.
"If they get set we want to move them side to side," Thibodeau continued. "But we want the ball in to the paint. When you have a player like Derrick who can force the defense to collapse, now you're going to get some high scoring or very efficient shooting out of that. Everyone has the responsibility to hit the open man, keep the ball moving."
It's an offense the Bulls are still getting used to -- but the players are enjoying moving up and down the floor because of the freedom it gives them to get to the rim.
"Whoever gets it, if Jimmy [Butler] or [Luol Deng] gets it, my job is to run the lane, get wide," Rose said. "It depends on how the play is going to be ran. Sometimes it's even spotting up for the open jumper, so we're just trying to get used to each other and get used to this new offense of pushing the ball."
With Butler and Deng flanking him and Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer manning the rim, the Bulls have one of the most athletic starting fives in recent memory. They want to use that athleticism to their advantage and control the pace of the game. The key for them in the coming weeks will be to adjust back to playing with Rose. It's a point Thibodeau has hammered home to his players and one he knows will be crucial to the Bulls' success throughout the season.
"Derrick's a special player," Noah said. "He plays at a pace that nobody can relate to. That speed, that quickness. It's on us to adjust. That's probably the best and biggest strength of our team so we have to be in better condition and just get used to playing with him because that's our joker."
Thibodeau believes the onus is on both Rose -- and his teammates -- to find the right rhythm to get themselves up to speed both literally and figuratively.
"That's why it's so important for everybody to practice -- because you got to get used to playing at that speed again,” Thibodeau said. And then [Rose] also has to get used to playing at that speed, and it's different in a game. And he's learning his teammates again and we have some new teammates that he's adjusting to."
It's why many of the Bulls have discussed why they spent extra time in the gym this summer getting into better condition. They know that playing with Rose is different and they hope they are up for the challenge. As for the former MVP, he knows the new-look offense changes part of his game, and his teammates' respective games.
"Right now, like in isolation plays, I've got so much in my repertoire," Rose said. "I want to use so much stuff but I always catch myself thinking too much. So these preseason games is to really get that out of my mind, have a go-to move, have a couple of go-to moves, and just see how they play me."
"As far as the team, it's the way our offense is. We run a lot of "C" sets where it's almost like a San Antonio set where you're just reading how the team is defending you and we're reacting to it. For us it's something that we have to learn because Thibs really wants us to put it into our offense, but it's going to take a little time."
No matter how teams play the Bulls, Rose expects his team to be scoring more points than ever before. The Bulls know they have an advantage with Rose back on the floor and they plan to take advantage of that whenever they get the chance.
"With the weapons that we have and the personnel of this team, we have guys that's been in the gym almost the whole summer, if not the entire summer, and dedicated their summers to improving this team," Rose said.