By now, you’ve heard every canned phrase that Tom Thibodeau can give. Between “more than enough,” and “next man up” or “do your job,” Thibs doesn’t give a whole lot of sound bites. But while not exactly being a media maven, Thibs certainly knows basketball and he can recognize effort and mental mistakes, the latter of which he says was apparent in the Bulls' 95-86 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Without Joakim Noah, being sent home due to illness, the Bulls were missing the primary player that the offense runs through. But Thibodeau says that’s no excuse for some of the mental mistakes the team made on Monday night.
“When you lose a guy like Jo, your margin of error is smaller,” the coach said. “But that being said, we had Taj, we had Carlos, we had Naz. I thought Naz did a good job. The same things go into winning. We can get it done and you’ve got to give Minnesota credit. They’re playing real well right now and so, we can never lose sight of how hard we have to play. And we can’t play hard for 32 minutes. We’ve got to play hard the whole game, from start to finish. And we’ve got to play as a team; we’ve got to play for each other. You can’t play selfish.
“You’ve got to remember, we’re also down Kirk. But we have enough. The free throws, to me, that’s the discipline, when you gift them free throws. Not being back on the raise of the shot, that’s discipline. Those are the things that we’ve got to correct. Those are mental things.”
The Bulls shot 38 percent from the field in the game and committed 13 turnovers, while the T’Wolves shot 47 percent from the field while also scoring 46 points in the paint. And even though the Bulls were shorthanded once again, Jimmy Butler says that’s still not an excuse for this team.
“We’re still expected to win games, no matter who we have suited up. Like Thibs says, ‘We always have enough to win,’” he said. “Once you hear that enough, you start to buy into it. So we’ve just got to keep grinding and hope whenever we get everybody back and healthy, we get on a little roll.”
That roll will be difficult as the Bulls embark on a six-game Western Conference road swing where they’ll face off against the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers.