Bulls’ remarkable record a reflection on Tom Thibodeau
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com April 25, 2012 8:36PM
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:59AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Ask C.J. Watson what owning the NBA’s best record for two straight years would say about these Bulls and he first mentions coach Tom Thibodeau.
“It shows how Coach Thibs came in and changed the face of the franchise and the team,’’ the backup point guard said. ‘‘It’s good to have the best record in the East and maybe in the whole league, but we want more than that.’’
Players were thrilled when they received the text message that Thibodeau had cancelled Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Several said they went back to bed — the best way for them to celebrate their accomplishment during this truncated season.
‘‘It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it also gives you your best chance,’’ Thibodeau said.
The degree of difficulty was greater than last year, considering the Bulls lost 98 games to injury or illness compared to 61 a year ago.
‘‘It’s very impressive,’’ Watson said. ‘‘A lot of guys stepped up this year. It’s just the makeup of our team.”
The Bulls were tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA heading into Wednesday’s game. They hold the tiebreaker for home-court advantage in the NBA Finals because they beat the Spurs earlier this season.
‘‘I don’t think you change your approach,” Thibodeau said when asked if he would do anything different to finish with the league’s best record. “If you’re doing the right things along the way, the results take care of themselves.”
Rotations are typically shortened in the playoffs, but the Bulls don’t have a typical bench, which is why Thibodeau said to expect few changes in how he handles his reserves.
‘‘Our bench is our bench,’’ he said. “We did the same thing last year. The starters will play a few more minutes, but for the most part it will be the same. . . . We have a small forward that can go to power forward. We have C.J., who is comfortable going to the two. We have great flexibility with our roster, and that’s by design.”