Has Thibodeau's style contributed to this Bulls slump?

USA TODAY Sports

ThibsBall can cut both ways.

Thibs was pretty peeved, and justifiably so, after that disgusting loss to the Kings.

I'm probably most disappointed in myself. My job is to have them ready. We can't come out like that. That's on me. I have to drive harder. I have to get the intensity up. And I will. Trust me on that.

...

There are two things you have to have to get intensity. You have to have great concentration and you have to give great effort. When you're lacking in intensity, you have to go back to those two things. You have to ask yourself: Are we as well prepared as we need to be? That's my job. I'm going to make sure that happens.

So there was a 75 minute practice on Thursday. Is that a lot? I don't know. Was it intense? ::shrug:: they don't open media to these things. The recent game's effort, and the words after that display, would indicate that it was. But then again they're battling so many injuries in the near-end of an 82 game schedule can they really go full speed?

The loss does really seem like a season low-point in a downward trend that has been going on for a couple of months. Not just in terms of record, but the team simply not playing as well anymore. There are obvious factors such as the aforementioned injuries, and the schedule.

And Brett Koremenos of Grantland (via Jay on twitter. follow him!), while pointing out that over the past month the Bulls offense would be "by far the worst" in the league if happening over a full season and on "the verge of collapse", looks to something I see as well: these guys are tired:

As Grantland's Alley-oop Overlord and resident Bulls fan, Robert Mays, pointed out to me last night, guys are just worn out. And how you can you blame Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and all the rest of the walking dead for being exhausted when they've been driven into the ground with an endless string of 40-plus-minute nights?

I have long been a believer that coaches play their guys too much over the course of the regular season. Given the marathon-like schedule, it behooves coaches to think long-term when managing their core players' minutes even if it costs the team a few wins in the present. The problem with my opinion now is that it's just an opinion.

The NBA is still years away from figuring out the real effect of fatigue on performance and injury risk. Until protocol for properly evaluating and managing fatigue can be implemented (which is a whole other battle), we won't know how much is too much when it comes to playing time. For now the best we can do is just use the information at hand to deduce things like the Bulls are bad on offense (and just bad in general) because guys have played too much. But we won't know if that's the right assumption until we can figure out a way to measure the proof.

Indeed, we can't really tell if ThibsBall is a big factor in the Bulls recent decline. I mean, we're quick to credit it as part of the team's rise earlier in the year, but proving a causation of this latest poor stretch is barely more possible than saying it's the fault of "Derrick Rose drama" (ugh). We know Joakim Noah's on bad feet but his super-high minutes load has also produced amazing games as recently as a couple of weeks ago. Kirk Hinrich has been injured a ton and doesn't play a lot of minutes (though he did before this most recent one), it looked like Thibs was overly cautious on Rip Hamilton and that still backfired, etc.

It very likely is a part. So is the lack of depth going into the season. Either way, I feel the Bulls are at a real and yet also imaginary crossroads this season. To the latter, they're not going to miss the playoffs or anything, and everyone in the East (outside of one glaring exception) has problems. But they're also looking like a team with no chance of a meaningful playoff run, with or without Derrick Rose. Maybe that can be freeing for fans (or am I the only one?) to just enjoy whatever ride is left and take the wins as they come. But for Thibs (and his teams have finished strong before) he may be desperately trying to double-down on a strategy that could be contributing to this mess in the first place.

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