The Bulls have seen the standings and know they have dropped six of seven games, but as was the case when Tom Thibodeau’s group was putting together the league’s best record in successive seasons, the focus has been internal to continue improving.
Thibodeau believes his team has worked hard, an accurate assessment after watching them compete in a triple-overtime loss to New Orleans on Monday. But regardless of outcome, Thibodeau wants his team to show consistency in practice, preparation and in games.
“You don’t want to react or overreact to praise or criticism,” he said Wednesday at the Berto Center. “You want to be the same every day: come in, put everything you have into it, build great habits, get ready for your opponent, know your opponent well, understand what goes into winning.”
The Bulls understand what goes into competing against the Miami Heat, and Joakim Noah said it’s always a big deal when the defending champions come to town.
Chicago is 7-5 in the regular season against the James-led Heat, including an Opening Night loss in Miami, 107-95.
“We’ve been losing some tough games, and this is a big game,” Noah said. “It’s always a big game when Miami comes to town. You’ve got to come ready and it’s going to be exciting.”
Bulls moving on post-Rose injury
Derrick Rose was seen walking through the Berto Center on Wednesday, and he’ll speak to the media tomorrow for the first time since undergoing a second straight season-ending knee surgery.
Thibodeau said the former MVP will not do much in terms of rehabilitation in the first month post-surgery, but that he is in high spirits and is already looking forward to next season.
“Derrick’s already moved past it. He’s thinking about what he’s got to do the rest of the way, this summer to be ready for next year. Talking to me about the team, what we’ve got to do and that’s what I see from our team,” Thibodeau said.
The Bulls, too, have gotten past the shock factor of losing their leader for the second straight season and are focused on winning with the players who will suit up on game day.
“Nobody’s banging their head,” Thibodeau said. “(Derrick’s) not going to be here, we know that. We got more than enough here. Concentrate on what we have to concentrate on.”
Butler still not practicing
Jimmy Butler (turf toe) has missed the Bulls’ last seven games, and though Tom Thibodeau said the swelling has subsided in his toe, the shooting guard has not resumed practicing and is not close to returning.
In nine games, Butler is averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. The Bulls are 1-6 with him out of the lineup.