Thibodeau's pregame message strikes chord with Bulls

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Thibodeau's pregame message strikes chord with Bulls

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau used Monday mornings practice to go over each of the teams 10 home losses on the season.

The message was to discard any excuses for their poor play and get the mindset of his players back on the readiness to play, no matter the opponent or circumstance.

Thibs was screaming at us early in the morning, Joakim Noah said. Its not fun to be screamed at at nine in the morning. Were 10-10 at home. There were a lot of F-bombs. A lot of F-bombs.

Thibodeau always talks about how the mood of the team is set at shoot-around and it would seem that his choice of words struck a chord and helped yield some record-setting results.

The Bulls went ahead to beat the Hawks, 97-58.

The win set franchise records for fewest points by an opponent (58), fewest points at the half (20), fewest points in a quarter (5 in the second), lowest field goal percentage in a half (.205 in the first half) and the 20 points Atlanta scored in the first half was the second-fewest points in a first half since 1975.

I think we have a pretty serious-minded team, Thibodeau said. For us, we had 10 home losses and we spent some time analyzing why, but not to focus in on the past. Be ready for tonights game and I thought our team did that. We want to be consistent with our approach. You dont want to change your approach, whether youre home or on the road. You dont want to change your style of play. I think the important thing is to come out with the right mindset from the start of the game, to understand the type of intensity and togetherness thats necessary to win. When you do that, youre going to put yourself in position to win and thats what we have to do.

There was a sense of added motivation as the Hawks handed the Bulls an embarrassing 92-75 road loss last month. Even with wanting to extract some revenge, the edge that most had grown accustomed to seeing over the years in the United Center was on full display Monday night.

Weve had some great moments, but tonight was special, Carlos Boozer told CSNChicago.com. Theyre a very good basketball team. Theyre a playoff team every year, they took it to us just a few weeks ago down in Atlanta. The roles were almost reversed tonight. We played a great game. Our intensity was there, concentration was there and the effort was amazing.

The Bulls will depart for two road games - Toronto and Boston - before returning to face the Grizzlies Saturday night. The win was the topic of conversation, but the teams focus as always under Thibodeau was on building off of this performance and the continuous strides for improvement.

You want to build, Thibodeau said. I think for us, we have to look at this game, understand the things we did well to get a lead like we did and then also have the ability to look at the things that maybe we got away with not doing so well. But we won, so human nature is to overlook those things. I think the good teams make the necessary corrections when they win; to be able to look at it objectively.

Added Noah: Its going to be interesting the rest of the way to see how we deal with playing at home when things arent going our way. When things arent going our way, how do we react to not hitting shots? We have to play together. When we play together, I feel were very tough to beat.

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?

That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.

The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.

The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.

Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?

Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Watch as the Bulls take on the Mavericks tonight on CSN+ and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. What's Jimmy Butler got in store? On paper, Butler's performance Sunday night against the Grizzlies was nothing special. In fact, in many ways it fell short of his season averages. But Jimmy G. Buckets was on his game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him most, helping them to a crucial road victory in Memphis. Tonight a fast start will be key against a Mavericks team that struggles to play from behind.

2. Dirk Nowitzki is back. The Mavericks are finally getting back to full-strength, and the main contributor to that is Dirk Nowtizki. The future Hall-of-Famer is finally rounding into form after an Achilles injury kept him out of the lineup most of the year. In his last three games, Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting.

3. There was at least some rumblings that the Bulls might have considered going after Ames native Harrison Barnes this past offseason. Instead, Barnes wound up in Dallas a potential building block for the Mavs. And he's looked pretty solid through the season's first half. Barnes is averaging 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and nearly a steal per game in 36 minutes. It'll be a fun matchup watching him go against Jimmy Butler.

4. More 3-pointers on the way? It's easy to say that a 31-point outing will get you going, but maybe Doug McDermott can build on his career night against the Grizzlies. He hit 3 of 6 triples, made 10 of 11 free throws and even added six rebounds and a(nother) block. The Bulls will be able to run more against the Mavs than they were the Grizzlies, meaning more spacing for McDermott to find open shots. If he's hitting early, the Bulls are in good shape.

5. A three-game winning streak on the line. The last time the Bulls won three straight -- earlier this month -- it pushed them over .500. Now they've got a chance to reel off a third straight and again get back over .500. As poorly as the Bulls have played as a whole, the Eastern Conference is wide open at the bottom half of the playoff bracket, so these are opportunities they don't want to miss against a struggling team.

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