DENVER — Having played in the NBA relatively recently, first-year Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw's perspective on Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's comeback campaign is somewhat unique.
So the fact that Shaw isn't surprised at Rose's early-season struggles after his stellar preseason-actually, one of the former league MVP's more pedestrian exhibition affairs came against the Nuggets: 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting, including 0-for-4 from three-point range, although he did dish out eight assists and committed only one turnover-is relevant as the Bulls and Nuggets clash Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.
"I think what happens being out from an injury as long as he was, when you first come back, you're so strong and your legs are so fresh that everything goes well for you, and then I think it settles down or it balances itself out," explained Shaw, a solid guard during his playing career. "I always think about when I played and when I came back from an injury, maybe that first game, you have a great game, you feel good, you feel like you're in shape and then the rust and everything else from the time you actually missed catches up with you, and I think that's part of it.
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"But I don't have any doubt in my mind that he'll find his groove. I think that watching him, he hasn't lost any explosion or any of his athletic ability. If anything, he looks as explosive or more explosive," the coach continued." It's just a matter of getting the rust out and it's only 10 or 11 games into the season at this point, so it's still a long ways to go and he'll get it going, just hopefully after [Thursday]."
Shaw confident in ex-Bull Robinson
Former Bulls fan favorite Nate Robinson, now a Nuggets reserve, went scoreless during the aforementioned preseason contest at the United Center, a Bulls win. Shaw doesn't think that will be the case this time around.
"I'm hoping that he has a really good game. He pressed a lot in the preseason. He wanted to do really well and he struggled that game. But I expect him to bounce back," Shaw said. "Nate, if anything, he's a guy that he's not going to leave any bullets in the chamber, so he's going to come out firing regardless. So I expect him to just play with a lot of energy and come off the bench, and make an impact for us and provide some scoring punch off the bench."
The coach mentioned that Robinson is playing through a wrist injury and though the tough-minded guard won't acknowledge that it's an issue, the coach said, "It probably is. He won't admit that is. He took two nasty falls in the Oklahoma City game. He was shooting with his left hand the last couple days of practice, but he's a trooper. He's a basketball-slash-football player, so he'll tough it out and if we see that it's really bothering him, maybe I'll have to protect him from himself."
Bulls developing reputation under Thibodeau
Regardless of Jimmy Butler's absence, Shaw said the Bulls' style of play under Thibodeau is such that opponents prepare for the team's system more so than individual personnel.
[MORE: Butler's absence creates hole in lineup during road trip]
"I think regardless of who they have playing, Thibodeau has his-there's a few teams that have solid systems in place. It doesn't matter who plays. They just plug in the next guy and it works. Popovich in San Antonio is that way, Thibodeau's teams in Chicago are that way. One guy goes down, but they're so versed at the way they defend and that's where they hang their hat, on their defense, that it doesn't matter if Butler's in there or not," he explained. "I think you have to be able to score on this team, you have to take the shots that are available, you have to try to strike when the defense gets set and not allow-Rose is a great player, Deng is very active, Boozer and Noah are solid inside-so you just can't allow somebody to have an extraordinary game against you.
"Very good defensive team that wants to try to get you in the halfcourt and grind you down, and one of the things we've been emphasizing to our team is to try to attack early, strike before the defense gets set because if you allow them to get set and shoot the ball late in the shot clock, that's when they're at their best," the coach added. "So that's our emphasis on the offensive end and defensively, embrace the physicality that Noah and Boozer bring. Obviously Derrick Rose, we have to wall him off and load to him, but at the same time, not overreact to his penetrations, and allow Boozer and Noah and Gibson and those guys to kill us on the offensive boards."