While much has been made lately of whether the Bulls will finish with the first or second seed in the NBA Playoffs this weekend, for Chicago, specifically Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, it doesn't matter one bit.
While debates have raged on which seed gives Chicago the best chance to make it back the Eastern Conference Finals, Thibodeau is more concerned with the health of his team – particularly his All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose – and finishing the regular season on a high note.
"To me, you go step by step and you try to put as many things in your favor as possible," said Thibodeau when asked of his preference of finishing first or second after the Chicago Bulls wrapped up their practice session Monday afternoon.
"We're not changing the way we prepare, we're not changing the things that we do. The same things go into winning for every game. Right now it's just continuing to improve, correct the things that need to be corrected, and just stay focused on your next opponent. I think once you start skipping steps, that's when you get in trouble in this league."
The Bulls would need to win one of their last two regular season contests and need the Miami Heat, who trail them in the standings, to lose one of their last two regular season contests as well. And neither team has a schedule that precludes them from winning out.
Miami faces Boston on the road Tuesday night and the Celtics have had the Heat's number all year. The Bulls will face the Pacers on Wednesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse and Indiana is a much improved team. They're currently No. 3 in the Eastern Conference standings. They finished No. 8 last season.
If the regular season ended today, the Bulls would have the No. 1 seed and would face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round and the winner of the Celtics, Atlanta Hawks series in the second round. That appears to be a much easier road to the Conference Finals as opposed to finishing with the No. 2 seed where they would face the New York Knicks in the first round and the winner of the Pacers, Orlando Magic series in the second round.
Although the final Playoff picture most likely won't be finalized until late Thursday night, one thing is for certain, Thibodeau doesn't care who his team will have to play in Round 1.
“You're planning for all the possibilities, but at this point, all of your preparations are done.”