Thibodeau leads undermanned Bulls forward in Dallas day game

Thibodeau leads undermanned Bulls forward in Dallas day game
March 30, 2013, 1:15 pm
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DALLAS, TX -- Another game, another set of injuries for the Bulls.

Once again, the Bulls will be short-handed, as starters Marco Belinelli and Joakim Noah will miss their third and fourth games, respectively, as the shooting guard continues to battle through an abdominal-muscle strain and the All-Star center deals with an ongoing bout of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

“Both guys are improving, Marco is very close, but we just want to make sure. Abdominal strain, those things, you just want to make sure he’s right,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before Saturday afternoon’s game in Dallas. “Whenever they’re ready. We want to be playing our best and we want to be as healthy as possible going down the stretch, so if that means one more day, two more days, so be it. But we just want to be smart about it moving forward.”

Veteran center Nazr Mohammed and second-year swingman Jimmy Butler again replaced the pair in the starting lineup, though Thibodeau insisted that the play of the two reserves hasn’t factored into the rehabilitation process for Noah or Belinelli, even after the Bulls’ last contest, Wednesday’s streak-stopping win over defending-champion Miami.

“I don’t look at it necessarily that way. I look at it as how the team is performing and functioning, so both guys have done a good job, we need everybody. We’ve been short-handed so you’ve got to do it collectively, and those guys have done a good job,” the coach explained. “We’re not worried about the Heat, we’re worried about the Mavs. Improve every day, concentrate on our next opponent, put everything we have into each and every day, and everything will take care of itself.”

Guards Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton, who has a bulging L-4 disk in his back, are also sidelined for the Bulls.

The injury-riddled roster has been a concern for the team all season, but under Thibodeau’s guidance, they’ve managed well, even without the unique ability of Rose, the former league MVP, who hasn’t played all season after tearing his ACL just over 11 months ago.
 
“I take it day-by-day. As long as [Rose] continues to improve, that’s all we’re concerned with. When he gets comfortable, he’ll get out there,” Thibodeau said. “You always look at the players you have available. You have to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, what gives you the best chance of winning, play to your strengths, cover up your weaknesses, and as I said all year long, I think we have more than enough. The same things go into winning in every game – defend, rebound, low turnovers, inside-out, share the ball. So whoever is called upon, get on in there and get the job done.”

But as gifted as Thibodeau has been in leading his perpetually-undermanned group, questions about his future with organization cropped up as a Yahoo! report surfaced about him not signing the four-year contract extension he agreed to with the team in October.

“Total non-issue, total non-issue. The lawyers had it tied up for a while, whatever it is that they do, I don’t know what these lawyers do. Something about language or something,” said Thibodeau, who is in the option year of his original deal with the Bulls. “I just got it back and as soon as I get an opportunity, Gar will have it, so total non-issue.”