Bulls

Bulls: Tom Thibodeau defends Joakim Noah going into Game 2

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Bulls: Tom Thibodeau defends Joakim Noah going into Game 2

CLEVELAND—

Considering the Mike Miller experiment predictably failed miserably in Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers are going with Tristan Thompson at power forward for Game 2 of their series against the Bulls as they try to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole with two games in Chicago up next.

If Game 1 was a win on the scoreboard for the Bulls, it was also a win for them strategically and possibly psychologically, which is why Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has routinely chided the school of thought that says the Cavaliers are undermanned without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith.

“Any team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving isn’t shorthanded,” Thibodeau has said numerous times.

Thompson is a menace on the offensive glass, especially when paired with Timofey Mozgov. In Game 1, the Bulls face-guarded him and kept him off away from creating second-chance opportunities, but that test will likely become much harder tonight.

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“Yeah, well you prepare for everybody, all the possibilities,” said Thibodeau when asked if he was surprised about the report stating Thompson would start in the team's morning shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena.

“He played 37 minutes so we know who he is and how he fits in. He can play at the 5 and at the four and because of all the things LeBron can do, he has flexibility. The biggest concern is the rebounding aggression and we have to be ready for that.”

He only grabbed three offensive rebounds in Game 1, a victory for the Bulls’ game plan, and Joakim Noah was part of the reason why.

Noah’s struggles are certainly in focus, as his offensive confidence has appeared to wane—evidenced by blowing an easy point-blank layup, part of his 0-4 shooting night.

Knowing what Noah’s going through, as far as his surgically repaired left knee that was worked on in the offseason giving him trouble from night to night, Derrick Rose has been appreciative of the effort and not necessarily worried about the stats.

“With Jo, he’s giving us what he’s got. He’s been through a lot,” Rose said. “For a big guy having those injuries, it takes a lot. Just his energy, his presence is a lot. He’s a hell of a character, hell of a teammate and it kinda rubs off on people.”

[MORE BULLS: Bulls should expect a more aggressive LeBron James in Game 2]

But Thibodeau chooses to focus on the nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 29 minutes, and with Thompson’s presence meaning the Cavaliers will play bigger, at least in theory, means Noah will be just as important.

“I don’t want anyone to get lost in his scoring because it’s never been a strong suit,” Thibodeau said. “It’s all the other stuff he brings to the team. It’s not the emotion, it’s the activity. When he does that, he’s very, very effective for us. It’s how the team functions when he’s on the floor. He doesn’t have to shoot well to play well. It’ll come around for him. All players go through it. Don’t let it take away from the things.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Vincent Goodwill previews free agency

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Vincent Goodwill previews free agency

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kevin Anderson are joined by Yahoo Sports NBA insider Vincent Goodwill

0:45 - Vinnie on basketball never stopping

1:55 - On Bulls selection of Coby White

2:45 - Dynamic between Kris Dunn and White

5:30 - Are Bulls likely to bring in a veteran point guard to mentor White?

7:30 - What kind of contract is Pat Beverley looking at?

9:40 - Will Bulls have enough cap space to sign three free agents?

11:50 - Vinnie on his vote for Zach LaVine for Most Improved Player

13:25 - On the NBA Awards show and its timing

15:45 - On Giannis and the Bucks, where can he still develop?

18:05 - On Kevin Durant and his options in free agency

21:40 - Why Durant will want to control his own destiny

23:30 - Vinnie on Jimmy Butler and where he may end up

26:10 - Vinnie on why he didn’t play in the media tournament during the NBA Finals

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

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AP

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.


PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.