OAKLAND — Tom Thibodeau is a man of his word.
Following Wednesday’s shocking 121-79 defeat at the hands of lowly Sacramento, the Bulls head coach pledged that he would drive his team harder and after Thursday afternoon’s practice at Oracle Arena, it appeared that he made good on his promise.
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“Meeting, practice, got back to work,” Thibodeau stated, when asked about what occurred during the session. “[The players responded] good, and that’s what we have to do. We’ve got to go step-by-step. We can’t do shortcuts, everyone’s got to do their job. We’ve got to come in, we’ve got to have the right edge about us. The answer’s in the room and if we put the work in, we’ll improve.
“We’ve got to get an edge back to us, so we’ve got to work. The answer is simple. And the work is hard. If we put the proper amount of work in, the intensity will be right. And that’s what we’ve got to get back to,” he added. “You have to combine great concentration with maximum effort and that’s how you become intense, and so, if you’re short-cutting any one of those areas, you’re not going to have the intensity that’s necessary to maintain a high level of intensity throughout a game, throughout a season. So, you have to back that up. You have to look at, ‘Are we putting the proper amount each and every day?’ It’s both mental and physical, so we have to get that part corrected and we have to get an edge about us. You have to do that day after day. You can’t get bored with the grind of the season. You’ve got to work through a season.”
Thibodeau didn’t absolve his team for their poor play against the Kings, but he continued to take the bulk of the blame for their performance, putting their lack of readiness on himself.
“Well, I’m responsible for everybody. This is everybody, this is all of us. This is everybody doing their job. We get everybody doing their job, putting everything they have into it, we give ourselves a chance, so being ready to play is a big part of my job. So, we’ve got to get that corrected and the players’ job is to go out there and do their job. So, I’ve got to make sure they understand what their job is. I’ve got to make sure they’re ready to go, I’ve got to make sure we have the right amount of intensity. The answers about what goes into winning a game are always the same: Get back, get set, guard your man, help, challenge shots, rebound, pass the ball, play inside-out, everyone do their job and when we do that, we have a chance,” he said.
“Here’s the thing: We’re down 34-20 after the first period, all right? So, even though we were scoring early, I didn’t like our intensity at all. So, we’re up 16-15 [in the first quarter] with five minutes to go. Played very poorly the rest of the first quarter and they started the second quarter, and went, I believe, 26-6. We failed as a team yesterday. And we’ve got to correct that.”
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As All-Star center Joakim Noah stated after Wednesday’s loss, Golden State, Friday’s opponent, is an upgrade from Sacramento, and it doesn’t help that the Bulls have lost nine out of their last 11 contests at Oracle Arena, meaning they’ll have to do a 180 in order to accomplish their goals against the Warriors.
“They’ve had a terrific year. They went through a lull. They’ve played a lot of road games, they were nicked up a little bit. They’re a terrific team, they can really shoot the ball, you can’t give them contested shots,” Thibodeau said. “I think they’ve improved significantly on the defensive end, so we’re going to have to be ready right from the start. We’ve got to come out with a lot more intensity.”