BOSTON – Now that the Bulls have clinched a playoff spot, will Tom Thibodeau consider resting any of his regulars?
Rest, Tom Thibodeau – ha. The Bulls’ coach has a reputation for playing starters through the closing minutes of blowout or meaningless games, but Thibodeau hinted before Sunday’s game at Boston that he might pump the brakes over the Bulls’ final 10 games.
“I think you want to be playing your best as you go in [to the playoffs], and you have to be as healthy as possible,” Thibodeau said. “So those are the things we’re concentrating on right now.”
But with the Bulls only a game behind Toronto for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference, and with Brooklyn and Washington just behind the Bulls, it’s not likely Thibodeau will cut more than a few minutes of playing time for his seven or eight regulars – if any at all.
Shoot then score
It’s no secret the Bulls are last in the NBA in scoring. Or, for that matter, what the Bulls must do to score more: shoot better.
The Bulls shot 39 percent overall and 3-for-17 from three in their 91-74 loss to Portland on Friday. Mike Dunleavy shot 1-for-9, and Kirk Hinrich was 0-for-6.
Thibodeau doesn’t want the Bulls to have to rely so heavily on outside shooting. Ironically, the way to find easier scoring chances, he said, is to make jump shots.
“Obviously our shooting hasn’t been as good as we would have liked and something that we have to continue to work on,” Thibodeau said. “… When we get the shooting, it opens up the floor, and then of course Joakim [Noah], his playmaking has been huge for us. Because when you shoot the ball well enough, it opens up the basket, and you get some cuts to the basket. We need some easy baskets.”
Boston first-year head coach Brad Stevens, well-known as a basketball nerd, said he noticed something about the Bulls’ roster while preparing for Sunday’s game.
“It’s interesting, we were looking [at their roster] – I think they have seven guys on the roster who played in the national championship game in college,” Stevens said. “You talk about March Madness, you start thinking about some guys that have been successful before – put them all together and they’re having some good success.”
Turns out, Stevens was actually one off, unless you count Luol Deng, whom the Bulls traded to Cleveland earlier this season.
Here are the six current Bulls who played in the NCAA title game:
- Derrick Rose, Memphis – 2008. Lost.
- Joakim Noah, Florida – 2006 and 2007. Won both.
- Kirk Hinrich, Kansas – 2003. Lost.
- Mike Dunleavy, Duke – 2001. Won.
- Carlos Boozer, Duke – 2001. Won.
- Nazr Mohammed, Kentucky – 1996. Won.