PHILADELPHIA It would be a stretch to call Sundays game a grudge match, but lets just say the Bulls didnt take their 16-point defeat at the hands of the 76ers last month lightly. The good news is they believe they know how to remedy what went wrong.
Play a lot tougher. Theyre good. They beat us up pretty good last time we played them here. Just got to make the adjustment, where we know its going to be a hard-fought game and come out prepared, Derrick Rose said, prior to the teams Sunday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center. Our effort. They beat us to every loose ball, out-rebounded us, transition couldnt stop them in transition, just getting back and it was hard to look at that tape.
Come out more prepared. Theyre a good team. I think were kind of mad at the way that they smacked us last time, at their place. Its definitely going to be a fun game, he continued. I think being locked in all 48 minutes. Theyre a good team. I thought the first half, we played decent over there, kind of lost focus a little bit in the second half and they made their run. Weve got to stop that. Weve got to go in focused. Were playing a very good team, good team at home, but were pretty confident with the last three games that weve played and having everyone back, so were looking forward to going out there and having a good game.
Rip Hamilton, who missed the February loss, chimed in from an observers viewpoint: They beat us to every loose ball, they came out with a lot of energy. It was game that we wanted to get that they won, so tonight we want to be prepared to hit first.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau diagnosed his teams issues in the blowout defeat, in which he sat his starters throughout the entire fourth quarter, from a strategic standpoint.
They were really soft in the pick-and-roll. They were forcing weak. We turned the ball over. That was our big problem, he said. Theyre athletic and quick, and if you turn the ball over, you put them in the open floor and thats where they do their damage. The thing thats different about them is they have a number of guys who can go off the dribble. Iguodala can handle the ball a lot, Holiday handles the ball, Lou Williams comes in great pick-and-roll player Turner can handle the ball and then, Thaddeus Young, hes a matchup problem because of his quickness at the four.
Thibodeau lauded the Sixers unselfishness on offense, citing it as a key to their success this season, in which they lead the Atlantic Division, ahead of more ballyhooed squads, such as Boston and New York.
They play for each other. I think thats the important thing. Play to win, make the extra pass, hit the open man, so I think you start off with that in mind. It starts off with your primary scorers. I think they have the responsibility of making the right play, so when theyre one-on-one and have the opportunities to score, they look to do so, but when the second defender comes, they have the responsibility to make the right play, hit the open man, said Thibodeau. The hard thing is being committed as a team to share the ball and I think if you have the right guys, theyll do that and I think if you look at the good teams in this league, to advance and to play well, I think you have to do that, so if one guys holding on to the ball, it makes it easy on the defense.