[Update by your friendly BullsBlogger, 03/30/11 11:03 AM CDT: Per KC, Noah now a gametime decision in Minnesota tonight. ]
Oh, that Thibs. It's one loss, but not the first sign of slippage from his Bulls, and he is going to what he knows most: practice.
Mike McGraw had some interesting quotes from Thibs and reactions from the players post-game after the Sixers loss. And what's even better than having a demanding coach is having team willing to take that direction: Thibodeau says that the morning shootaround didn't go well, and Rose says he'll do better. Thibs says Luol may have had poor games due to missing practice lately, and Luol agrees that he needs practice to play in rythym (full Luol sound here).
Poor Deng, guy plays every night for 40 minutes, and gets called out for missing a practice or two. Meanwhile, Taj is wearing a monster-shoe on one foot to accommodate his turf toe, and Joakim Noah tweaked his ankle. Even the franchise is banged up.
Nobody's slated to miss any upcoming games, so it could be a lot worse. The NBA schedule is a grind, after all. Maybe the Bulls have been dodging similar bullets all season? In this MVP column at the Painted Area, I found an interesting* take on the Bulls health:
One other interesting factor I discovered while exploring the Bulls is the team's bizarre injury profile. A significant factor behind the Rose-for-MVP narrative is that he has kept the Bulls afloat despite substantial injuries to the team's second- and third-best players (Carlos Boozer, 23 missed games; Joakim Noah, 31 missed games).
Yet, what I found remarkable is that the Bulls have otherwise had almost pristine health. Out of the other nine players who've seen significant time this season, there have been three games lost to injury, total (Rose, 1; Gibson, 2). That's a shockingly low number. I think the perception is that Chicago has been hit hard by injuries. In reality, I'd guess the loss of two stars for significant time balanced by almost no other missed games leaves the Bulls with a fairly average injury profile overall.
The demands of Thibs is an increasingly fascinating balance, but as long as the wins are coming, there's no worries. And with a fairly comfortable lead for the #1 seed going into an easy first-round matchup, maybe it'll be a rare time for the Bulls to not only hone their game, but get a bit healthier in the process.