As regular season winds down, Thibodeau stays focused

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As regular season winds down, Thibodeau stays focused

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has dealt with a litany of injuries all season, but now, as the regular season winds downhis team has two games left in the campaignhe can finally begin to turn his attention to the playoffs. Except that, knowing Thibodeau, he wont allow his team to focus on anything but Wednesdays upcoming contest at Central Division rival Indiana.

You want to finish what you started, so we feel like theres still work to be done. This is what we all signed up for. Shortened training camp, condensed schedule. Weve said all along that its not only a lack of practice time, but its also a lack of rest. Those are two major components and you always begin the season with end in mind, so when you wind down, you want to be playing well and you want to be healthy, explained Thibodeau, who noted that his team has had exactly 101 practices I count meetings, walk-throughs, ballroom sessions, he saidthis season, approximately half of what they had last season, including the playoffs.

Heres the thing: I think, overall, this team has done a good job of meeting every challenge. Weve been short-handed. The guys who have stepped in have done good all season long. We feel very good about the bench and the job they have done, but its still a collective effort and theres along way to go. Overall, Im pleased, but theres also things we can do a lot better and were going to concentrate on those things.

The big question mark becomes when youre not sure whos going to be in each and every night. Youd like to develop some consistency going in. I think thats the important thing. We have to be consistent with our approach and how we perform, he continued.

Its how you respond to the challenge, so we want to keep moving forward. Were being tested and theres the adjustment of when guys go out and theres also the re-adjustment when guys come back, but you cant use that as an excuse. You have to be ready for whatever is in front of you and thats the way I want our guys to respond.

Speaking of respond, a word Thibodeau used after Thursdays disappointing loss at Miami, his opinion differed from the consensus that his team revealed a major weakness when faced with a physical challenge from the Heat.

When you look at the strength of the club, weve been a defensive team, weve been a rebounding team for a long time. Weve been a dominant rebounding team and you cant be a dominant rebounding team being soft. I know that, so I wouldnt say were soft, he said. Now, were we disappointed with end result in Miami? Yeah, and are we capable of playing a lot better? Yeah, and we were disappointed in our fourth quarter, but we also did a lot of good things in that game. That game was very winnable in the fourth quarter, so were going to make the necessary corrections and move forward.

With the playoffs a week away, although the Bulls head coach is focused on the task at hand, but in examining the potential competition in the East, he sees a tough road ahead for his team, who are one win away from clinching the top seed in the conference.

Just knowing that its a lockout season, you can have teams that maybe end up being a lower seed that really arent that seed. Boston is a team thats playing very well and they have championship experience. I think New York is a team thats really playing well. Indianas playing well. Youve got a lot of teams and theres great parity in the league. Theres not a big difference between the top playoff seed and the eighth seed, the second seed and the seventh seed, the third seed and the sixth seed, the fourth seed and the fifth seed, said Thibodeau, who was on the staff of the eighth-seeded Knicks during the last lockout-shortened season when they advanced to the 1999 NBA Finals.

A big part of success in the playoffs comes down to are you playing well and are you healthy, so you have to concentrate on those things. I think you know what wins in the playoffs. I think you have to be well-balanced and you have to be playing well.

Windy City Bulls fill out roster in D-League expansion draft

Windy City Bulls fill out roster in D-League expansion draft

The Windy City Bulls are beginning to feel more like a real team.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls' new NBA D-League franchise that will play games in Hoffman Estates beginning this season participated in the league's expansion draft.

As one of three new expansion teams joining the NBA D-League this season, the Windy City Bulls were allowed to select 12 players from the other 19 teams in the league. Each returning D-League team was allowed to protect the rights to 10 players on each roster with two players being available to the Bulls, Long Island Nets and Greensboro Swarm.

The Bulls acquired the rights to 12 players as here's the rundown of who they selected.

Round 1: Wesley Saunders, G/F, Harvard (Austin Spurs)
Round 2: Kiwi Gardner, G, Midland College (Santa Cruz Warriors)
Round 3: Ralph Sampson III, C, Minnesota (Maine Red Claws)
Round 4: Booker Woodfox, G, Creighton (Texas Legends)
Round 5: Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette (Northern Arizona Suns)
Round 6: Akeem Richmond, G, East Carolina (Reno Bighorns)
Round 7: Casey Prather, G/F, Florida (Northern Arizona Suns)
Round 8: Jon Octeus, G, Purdue (Canton Charge)
Round 9: Justin Dentmon, G, Washington (Texas Legends)
Round 10: Jamal Jones, F, Texas A&M (Delaware 87ers)
Round 11: Xavier Thames, G, San Diego State (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
Round 12: Ian Chiles, C, Morgan State (Salt Lake City Stars)

It's important to note that although the Bulls have the rights to these 12 players for two seasons that many of them might never suit up for the team. Many players from this expansion draft group will head overseas to pursue professional opportunities there. If they do end up signing a D-League contract, the Bulls will have right of first refusal, giving the Bulls rights to these players for two seasons.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Among the notables picked by the Bulls include the 5-foot-7 Gardner, who has had a successful D-League stint in the past as well as some experience in the Saudi Premier League. Local college hoops fans will probably recognize the 6-foot-3 McNeal from his days at Marquette where he played for one season with Bulls star Jimmy Butler. McNeal also has more NBA experience than anyone on the expansion list as he most recently finished out the 2014-15 season with the Phoenix Suns. Former Washington product Justin Dentmon is also a native of Carbondale as the 6-foot-0 guard helped Carbondale High School to a fourth-place finish in the 2004 IHSA Class AA state basketball tournament.

Windy City will tip off the season with a home opener at Sears Centre on Friday, Nov. 11. The 2016-17 D-League schedule was released earlier this week as Windy City will have 24 home games, including 16 that will be played on Friday or Saturday night. 

While the Windy City roster will look very different from this expansion draft list, the Windy City Bulls should help the main Bulls franchise develop young talent in a nearby location as it will be the start of a very intriguing dynamic.  

Derrick Rose is really, really confident with the Knicks

Derrick Rose is really, really confident with the Knicks

Derrick Rose has never been shy about voicing his opinion. And that didn't change once he was dealt to the Knicks in late June.

He told NBA.com in late July that the Knicks, who also signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, had formed a "super team" with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Rose said both the Knicks and Warriors, who won 73 games and then added this generation's greatest scorer in Kevin Durant, were the two super teams in the NBA.

Rose then doubled down on those comments earlier this month, saying every player should "believe in yourself" enough to feel as though you're playing on a super team.

That confidence didn't waver in the last week, as Rose made headlines once again for saying the Knicks have a chance to do something pretty special.

"I think (the Knicks) have a chance to win every game, and in the league, that's rare," he told Yahoo! Sports.

Now, it's important to recognize that Rose is not saying the Knicks are going to go 82-0, or even that they have a realistic shot at doing so (though Rose's other super team in the NBA, Golden State, may have a shot). It'd be even more odd to hear Rose say there were games the Knicks had no shot at winning this season, even though their 32-win season from a year ago would suggest otherwise.

What Rose's comments really show is that he hasn't lost any of the confidence that made him the league's youngest MVP. Even while battling through his myriad injuries Rose maintained that he'd get back to the level he once showed as a dominant point guard in the NBA. And with a fresh start in New York, he's hoping that becomes a reality.

The Knicks have a decent shot at getting back to the postseason for the first time since 2013. But with new head coach Jeff Hornacek and many new pieces needing to mesh, there's bound to be a few games early in the year that the Knicks have no real shot at winning (like Opening Night in Cleveland).

Bulls Talk: SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell on Olympic gold for Team USA, Jimmy Butler's role in Rio

Bulls Talk: SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell on Olympic gold for Team USA, Jimmy Butler's role in Rio

As part of a joint collaboration between CSNChicago.com and SBNation.com's Blog a Bull, Mark Strotman and Ricky O'Donnell are breaking down the latest happenings on the Bulls. Check back all season long for more video hits and features.

On the first edition of the collaboration, Mark and Ricky break down USA Basketball's road to a third consecutive gold medal in this month's Rio Olympics.

It marked the third consecutive gold for Carmelo Anthony, the first man to accomplish that feat, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski finished his career as USA Basketball head coach 88-1, including a 76-game winning streak to end things.

Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler was on that squad and provided crucial defensive work on the team's second unit. The guys break down whether or not he'll be a part of the 2020 team that heads to Tokyo looking for a four-peat.

And Butler wasn't the only member of the Bulls participating in Rio. Mark and Ricky look at Nikola Mirotic's encouraging play for the Spanish national team, as well as Cristiano Felicio getting his feet wet for the host country, Brazil.

See all of what they had to say in the video above, and be sure to check out Blog a Bull all season long for Bulls news and analysis.