|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2011||[Print without images]|
Win or loss, blowout or barn-burner, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been about as even-keeled as they come all season.
As the Bulls head to Miami with the Eastern Conference finals tied at 1-1, don't look for much to change.
"Your strengths and weaknesses as a team don't change," Thibodeau said after Saturday's practice at the Berto Center. "It's going to come down to how hard you do it and how well you do it. Because you have to be able to sustain that intensity throughout the game."
As for his team, Thibodeau has few doubts about the Bulls' ability to handle adversity -- even after a rough shooting night in Wednesday's Game 2 loss to the Heat.
"If you have to rely on pep talks at this time of the year there's something wrong," Thibodeau said. "To me, right now it's more about your habits than anything else. It's all the things that you've built up over the course of a season. How well you can handle tough situations. The ability to concentrate throughout the game. To move on to the next play. Be ready for the next play no matter what happens.
"During the course of a game, you're going to be faced with a lot of different things. Sometimes things will be going your way. Sometimes they won't. But you have to be able to navigate through all that. And you gotta be able to make tough plays. This is what it's about right now. The ability to make tough plays, make hustle plays, make great effort plays -- do all the things that will help unite and inspire your teammates."
Through 95 games, it's pretty clear that the Bulls go as MVP Derrick Rose goes. In Game 2, Rose was going to the rim and the foul line, but he wasn't finishing at the rate the Bulls have become accustomed to. The third-year guard hit 7-of-10 from the free throw line and 7-of-23 from field. Ten misses came inside the paint.
Thibodeau doesn't expect Rose to come out with tepid aggression, however.
"I don't want [Rose] to change anything that he's doing," Thibodeau said. "That's how we got here. And we want to continue to do all the things that we did well through the course of the season. We're not going to change who we are now."The Bulls, who are the NBA's top overall seed but no longer have home-court advantage in this series, have shown they can recover quickly. After each of their three previous playoff losses, Chicago answered with a double-digit win in the next game. Plus, the Bulls haven't lost consecutive games since Feb. 5-7. "Don't jinx us like that," Rose said.
Rose wasn't alone in struggling with his jump shot. The Bulls shot 34 percent as a team and hit 15 percent from long range.
"I thought [Game 2] was a hard-fought game," Thibodeau said. "[If the score is] 73-73 I'm not sure anyone is saying anything because you don't know what the outcome is. It's the same thing with your shooting. It's a make-or-miss league and sometimes you go up and the ball goes in and out. But our defense has to be good. It's gotta be great. The rebounding has to be consistent. We gotta make great effort. It's about will right now."Bulls swingman Ronnie Brewer echoed his coach's thoughts. "We want to come back there and bounce back and get back on the right page, because things can go bad quick," Brewer said. "You don't want to get into a habit that one game leads to two to three losses. So you usually try to turn it around as quickly as possible."
Game 3 tips off Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CT.Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.