Bulls don’t have time to lose, Thibodeau warns
BY HERB GOULD For Sun-Times Media November 4, 2013 8:58PM
On the one hand, it’s only been three games. On the other hand, this is not a two-handed problem for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
‘‘I want to get away from the notion that we’ll be OK, that we have a lot of time,’’ Thibodeau said Monday after putting his 1-2 Bulls through an intense three-hour practice at the Berto Center. ‘‘That’s not the mentality you can have if you want to be a good team. You have to correct things immediately. You have to put the work into it. You can’t hope it to happen. You have to make it happen.’’
The to-do list includes things such as running their offensive sets more crisply and helping out on defense — and mustering the intensity they’ll need if they’re going to put the heat on the Miami Heat and the rest of an improving Eastern Conference this season.
Thibodeau wasn’t buying explanations that the Bulls need time to master his X’s and O’s, to mesh their new faces into the system.
‘‘You might have a point if this was the first year,’’ he said. ‘‘But the core of these guys have been here for a long time now. That helps bring the new guys along quicker. But it’s a team-wide problem. This isn’t a new-guys problem. It’s our entire team. And we have to correct it.’’
The Bulls’ malaise seems to center on intensity and aggressiveness. That’s the big issue, Derrick Rose said, even though Thibodeau has been preaching urgency since the start of training camp.
‘‘It’s up to us to go out and play the way he wants us to play,’’ Rose said. ‘‘That’s to be aggressive, play with an edge. That’s something we have to work every day on as a team. As a whole, we have to put out a better effort.’’
What’s the biggest stumbling block?
‘‘I can’t really say,’’ Rose said. ‘‘We have to keep coming in here and working on our chemistry. It’s only three games. Everybody’s looking at it like it’s 30 games in because of the expectations of this year. We’re going to be fine. We just have to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball.’’
There are plenty of reasons why intensity needs to be the Bulls’ calling card. They’re a defensive team in an offensive sport. They no longer have waves of great defenders coming off the bench.
Beyond Rose, they have an offense by committee. When Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler aren’t making shots and when Carlos Boozer has an unfavorable matchup, scoring can become a struggle. That’s especially true with Rose still acclimating after being sidelined last season.
In other words, while Thibodeau can sound like an alarmist, especially this early in the season, the key point is bedrock: If the Bulls don’t outwork people, they run the risk of things not working out.