The Bulls are ready to come out fighting after suffering a 17-point loss when the two teams met last month.
The situation was eerily similar to what happened with (last Saturdays loss to Phoenix), coach Tom Thibodeau said. The night before, we had beaten New York on the road and we went down. You cant be looking backwards in the league. You have to know exactly whats in front of you. We actually played well in the first quarter of the game, we were up four and we let our guard down and we got hurt in the second quarter. You have to be a 48 minute team.
Thibodeau and the players took individual and collective ownership after their poor showing at home against Phoenix, and while most may be concerned with the poor home record after being 62-12 in the Thibodeau era before this season the focus for the team centers on its approach to each game, whether viewed marquee or not.
Obviously were disappointed with (the home record), but I dont want it to change how we have to approach each and every day, Thibodeau said. You cant get caught looking backwards and not focusing on exactly whats in front of you right now, which is improvement, being ready to play and understanding how you win. Thats where I want our focus to be, on making the necessary steps that we need to make to improve so that we can be successful.
"I think when the result is not what you want it to be, there could be frustration that creeps in, he continued. I think its important to focus in on the necessary things that you have to do in order to win. Poise under pressure is very important, but making the necessary steps to correct how were playing is the most important thing right now.
Im concerned that were making some of the same mistakes that we made earlier in the year. I want the focus back on our improvement, day by day. I want us to understand how we win and the commitment necessary to win.
The Hawks sit one game ahead of the Bulls in the standings at 21-15, but have lost six of their last eight games.
It would seem a perfect opportunity for the Bulls to redeem themselves at home, but Thibodeau knows whats ahead of them.
Theyre one of the best teams in the East, Thibodeau said of Atlanta. They have a lot of weapons. They can break you down off penetration, their bigs are highly skilled, (Kyle) Korver gives them a great shooter that spreads the floor. He makes everyone on the team better because of the attention you have to give to him, that creates space for players. We have to be ready.