Bulls balancing fun, focus as they gear up for the playoffs

Bulls balancing fun, focus as they gear up for the playoffs
April 11, 2014, 12:15 pm
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Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau always maintains that all he wants out of his team is good health and to be playing well going into the postseason.

Well, both of those things are occurring at the moment, as the Bulls are riding a six-game winning streak and besides the sidelined Derrick Rose, all hands are on deck currently, including newly-acquired familiar faces Ronnie Brewer, Mike James and Lou Amundson. But while the playoffs are looming, the squad’s goal of seizing the East’s third seed over Toronto remains and by winning out, the once-improbable thought of a 50-win season is a possibility, the Bulls are striving to stay focused on the present, Friday night’s home matchup with the Pistons.

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“We’re just worried about Detroit, going step by step. I think that approach has served us well. I don’t want to change how we do anything. Just worry about our improvement, get ready for Detroit and everything will take care of itself,” Thibodeau insisted. “Just concern yourself with the process of improvement, get ready for each opponent, know each opponent well and again, I think if you’re doing the right things, the results will take care of themselves.”

All-Star center Joakim Noah chimed in: “I say it every day. Just try to live in the moment as much as possible. Today it’s against Detroit. They’ve won two of their last three. They have very good players and for us, it’s about our progress, getting better. And we’re playing for something. We’re playing for seeding and that’s important.”

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“I mean, it’s the life we chose. I’m living my dream. I get to play basketball for a living in front of 25,000 people that go crazy for us at the United Center. I try not to take any of those moments for granted. Even though the playoffs are coming up, people won’t always talk about what’s going on ahead. It’s just important for us to stay focused on our team and our progress and just enjoying the moment.”

Jimmy Butler concurred: “We’ve got four more games, so we definitely need to win these and try to move into third or whatever it may be. When the playoffs get here, that’s when you worry about the playoffs.”

Still, it’s undeniable that the Bulls, especially compared to say, December, when they hit a rough patch following Rose’s season-ending injury and subsequent surgery, are having fun these days.

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Noah, perhaps the most obvious example of playing with a certain joie de vivre, explained: “You can play with an edge and have fun. When we play Miami Heat I’m not smiling, but I’m having fun. I love to compete. Our team loves to compete. I think we’re playing well right now. We’re focused. What’s more fun than that?

“I think it’s good to have everybody on board: Mike James, Lou, Ronnie ‘Brewski.’ Those guys are great guys, guys we’ve had in the past. And Jimmy looks happy today. When Jimmy’s happy, everybody’s happy.”

Butler, another leader in the aforementioned category, added: “It’s always fun when you’re playing basketball. But I feel like we’re in a groove. Playoffs are around the corner. So there’s nothing but smiling going on.”

Even Thibodeau admitted: “Well, the winning, to me, is what it’s all about. That’s how you measure yourself. I think you put the work into it. I think when there’s a commitment by an entire team to put everything you have into it, to play for each other, there’s a good feeling about when you do that. And we have a great group of guys who have made a serious commitment. They’ve chosen to fight throughout the course of the year and we have to continue to fight.”