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Taj Gibson’s offense draws praise, double teams

WEDNESDAY

BULLS AT PISTONS

The facts: 6:30 p.m., CSN, 1000-AM.

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NEW YORK — Enjoying the best offensive season of his career and his best stretch of the season, Bulls big man Taj Gibson has gotten used to dealing with multiple defenders when he gets the ball in the post. It happened often Monday in the 96-80 road loss against the Brooklyn Nets.

He has earned that respect.

“That’s why, when I go over stuff with [coach Tom Thibodeau] and [assistant] coach Mike [Wilhelm], they want me to face up a lot more,” Gibson said. “We encourage the double team. We work on it a lot in practice. But now it’s so hidden because they snap back without me seeing.”

Over the last 10 games, Gibson is averaging 16.5 points. He has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games and 20 of his last 21.

As a starter, Gibson is averaging close to a double-double at 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds.

The way Thibodeau sees it, if Gibson has a guy one-on-one in the low post, the Bulls should look to get him the ball.

“His back to the basket, he can get a quality shot,” Thibodeau said. “He’s guarded single coverage, he’s going to get a good shot. And I think he’s really improved at reading the double team. [We’ve] gotten a lot of open threes off the double team. He’s running the floor; he’s getting deep post-ups; he’s also gotten comfortable facing up with the 17-footer in the pick-and-roll. So he’s scoring a lot of different ways. But with his back to the basket, he’s shown very good patience.”

Thibodeau says Gibson’s offensive output is a product of his ability to get deeper post position. The closer he is to the basket, the harder it is for the double team to get there.

“When you’re scoring the way he’s scoring,’’ Thibodeau said, ‘‘that’s why post depth is so important — to get it where it’s so deep that the help can’t get there, and I think he’s done a great job with that.’’

Reading the double team has been just as important for Gibson.

Center Joakim Noah gets most of the credit for his ability to pass out of the post — he’s putting up historic assist numbers for a Bulls big man — but that doesn’t mean Gibson hasn’t earned his due.

It might not be reflected in his assist numbers, but Gibson’s ability to hit the open man out of the double team creates open shots for the offense.

“It’s something you have to deal with,” Gibson said. “Like Coach said, the good players deal with double teams. I just have to adapt to make the right plays.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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