Coach Tom Thibodeau insists game vs. Heat same as all the rest
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com March 25, 2013 10:19PM
Heat forward LeBron James is called for charging as Bulls guard Jimmy Butler falls to the floor in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 86-67 loss to the Miami Heat Thursday February 21, 2013. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 27, 2013 6:28AM
It was a typical response from coach Tom Thibodeau.
Asked about the Bulls having
a chance to put an end to the
Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak Wednesday at the United Center, Thibodeau said, ‘‘All the games count the same.’’
Minutes later, guard Nate Robin-
son was practicing Heat star Le-
Bron James’ new celebratory move — a few hits to the chest, gesturing with palms down, then another hit to the chest — in the locker room. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but that wasn’t Robinson’s intent. It was more about having the move in his pocket to pull out and mock James.
So all the games count the same?
‘‘Definitely, but they are also one of our biggest rivals,’’ swingman Jimmy Butler said when asked if the Bulls would like the chance to end the streak. ‘‘But I feel like you’ve got to approach every game the same way because you can get beat by Miami or whoever else is in this league. They’re all NBA players, all very talented, so you can’t just look at one team and skip back to Miami. But we will be focused and keyed in on every aspect of their team. We’ll play hard and try and get that one home.’’
Or become victim No. 28 in a row, with the Heat trying to surpass the NBA-record 33-game winning streak set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971-72.
‘‘You always want to beat Miami,’’ Butler said. ‘‘One of the best records in the league, great players. But more than anything, we just want to protect our home floor, get that momentum going for the playoffs.’’
Even as short-handed as they are, the Bulls have as good a chance as any team of ending the streak. The Bulls are 6-3 in the regular season against the Heat in three seasons under Thibodeau, including a victory this season in January in Miami.
And Thibodeau knows about watching long winning streaks come to an end. He was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics when they ended the Houston Rockets’ winning streak at 22 games in the 2007-08 season.
‘‘That was a heck of a streak also,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘[The Rockets] played great for a long time, and they did half the streak without Yao [Ming] because of an injury.
‘‘Yeah, it’s pretty incredible what [the Heat is] doing. They’re winning because they’re playing well. Nothing has changed. That organization has always stood for hard-playing, tough defense, sharing the ball, playing to win. They have maintained a very high standard for a long time.’’
But asked if this game was different because of what’s at stake, he said ‘‘no’’ without hesitation.
‘‘That’s not the way we look at it,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘The way we look at it is get in, learn from [the victory Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves], improve, then be ready for whoever the next opponent is, and we’ve got to know them well. Obviously, they are playing at a very high level. All the games count the same, and we’ve got to be ready when that ball goes up.’’