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Thibodeau calls out Bulls’ subpar defense

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Updated: May 23, 2014 6:19AM



Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t in the business of pointing fingers.

In his world, it’s a ‘‘five-man
offense, five-man defense, and
everyone is connected.’’

He reiterated that again Monday, one day after the Bulls lost Game 1 of their first-round playoff series to the Washington Wizards.

‘‘To put it on one guy, that’s not how we do it here,’’ Thibodeau said.

But that didn’t prevent the Wizards from finding that perceived weak link in the chain and attacking it, especially in their fourth-quarter comeback. Unfortunately for guard D.J. Augustin, he was the guy the Wizards went after in crunch time.

‘‘Not only D.J., our defense,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if he thought Augustin had to improve on the defensive end. ‘‘I could go from start to finish. There’s an
endless list of things that we didn’t do correctly. We’re capable of
doing much better. And we’re going to have to.

‘‘They’re a good team. In the playoffs, you have to play for 48 minutes and be disciplined. You have to stick to it. Some plays, they made tough plays. Give them credit. Others, we made mistakes. And we have to correct those mistakes.’’

According to one source, though, Thibodeau was concerned about Augustin’s defensive shortcomings
being exposed, especially in the playoffs, when opposing coaches smell blood and attack. Sure enough, the Wizards’ guards seemed to go right after him down the stretch, whether it was John Wall, Bradley Beal or even 38-year-old Andre Miller, who scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Thibodeau was asked if the
defensive breakdowns were more related to bad positioning or poor communication.

‘‘It was a compilation of all those things,’’ he said. ‘‘To me, if one guy is not doing their job, it’s going to make everyone look bad. We have to be tied together. We have to have the proper amount of intensity and concentration. And we have to finish our defense. That’s one thing that we could do a lot better.’’

Strange that on the day center Joakim Noah was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, all the focus was on how porous the Bulls’ defense was Sunday. But that was addressed during practice at the Berto Center.

‘‘Obviously, for us to give up 102 points in a playoff game is un-
acceptable,’’ forward Mike Dunleavy said. ‘‘But you give [the Wizards] credit. They played pretty well, and they’re going to play better [in Game 2] on Tuesday, so our defense is going to have to be a whole lot better.

‘‘I can’t get into too many specifics, but I just think our overall
intensity needs to be better, our alertness, our awareness. We’ll tinker with a few things here and there, but most of it is kind of an
effort thing.’’

While there will be tinkering, it didn’t sound as though Thibodeau was going to change his rotation. That means Augustin and the other players on the court at the end of games will have to find a way to deal with the Wizards’ backcourt and to slow down forward Nene, who burned the Bulls for 24 points.

‘‘This is the NBA,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘You take one or two things away, other guys are going to get stuff. It’s almost impossible to take everything away unless guys aren’t playing well. It’s give and take. We’ll make our adjustments and see how they react.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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