And then there were two. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed that reserve point guard John Lucas III would be available for Wednesday nights game against the Pacers, but said that backup power forward Taj Gibson, like small forward Luol Deng, would be unavailable.
Hes getting there. Hes doing a little bit more each day, says hes feeling better. The swellings down, Thibodeau said after the Bulls morning shootaround at the Berto Center. Theres always a chance, but unlikely.
As many hands on deck the Bulls have when playing Indiana, the better, as the Pacers have shown in the past year, theyre tired of being the little brother to the team from next state over.
Well, theyre a well-balanced team. They were a good team last year. They had injuries early on in the season. When their team was healthy, they were very, very good. Theyve done a great job. Theyve added George Hill and David West, who are terrific players. They already had a quality team with quality depth and theyve added to it, and theyve gained experienced, so thats what I think makes them so good, said Thibodeau. Theyre a divisional team, the proximity, theyre good, but every team we face is good. You have to be ready for everybody. Theyre a very good team and weve got to be ready for them.
The thing that concerns me is who they are. Every team in this league is very good. You guys think there are easy games. Theres no such thing as easy games in the NBA. Every team is talented and youve got to be ready to play. Thats the biggest challenge, he added. We dont change the way we play. We know for us, its always the same thing. Its defense, rebounding, low turnovers, inside-out, share the ball and we know if we do those things, well be in position to win, so we strive to get those things done whether its in practice or a game, every day, and try to get better in all those areas.
Concurred Ronnie Brewer, who will start in place of the injured Deng: You can say that with almost any team that we play, but I think the way that last year ended and every game that we play against them has been tough, its been physical and a real close opponent, and theyre an improving team. Theyve got a lot of talent on their team, very well-coached and its always going to be a tough game when we play them.
They play extremely hard and with that combination, they tend to have a difficult team to beat. Its going to take a great effort from us, 48 minutes, he continued. They play hard, every possession. They dont take a possession off, very physical, but I think the guys we have on this team, we dont really back down, we dont really back down from that kind of stuff.
Brewer acknowledged that the Bulls, undefeated at the United Center thus far this season, are even more confident when playing at home, though he says the teams motivation lies inward and with their hard-charging coach.
Thibs always says it's bad to feel like whenever you play at home, youre going to win, but thats kind of how we feel, he said. Our fans come out and provide great support, they stick behind us whenever were not shooting the ball well or not getting defensive stops. I think that really pushes us over the hump.
Thibs pushes us. We dont really record-watch or look at any other teams in the league. We take it game by game, the opponent at hand and we focus on what weve got to do it, and how we can improve every game, he went on to say I know what our record is. I dont know what their Indianas record is.
Although Brewer professed not to know what the Pacers record is, he was complimentary about their development under head coach Frank Vogel. Indiana went down to the Bulls in five games during their first-round playoff series, but the eighth seed didnt go without a fight, almost literally.
Coaching is all about adjustments and whenever we did something, he made adjustments to try to change it and they were a young team with not a lot of playoff experience, and they came in there and gave us a hard-fought series, he explained. They dont get under my skin, but I think a lot of guys on their team bother players with their play. David West was a great acquisition for them, Tyler Hansborough plays extremely hard, Darren Collisons a great up-and-coming point guard, so theyve got a lot of pieces on their team makes them a very dangerous team.
I think the team is a reflection of the coach and sometimes, you jump on a team early and they might throw the towel in, but a lot of well-coached teams will continue to fight, continue to battle for the entire game and you get up 10 or 12, and try to make a run, good teams will stick with it and come right back at it, and make a run themselves and make a game out of it.