So far this Chicago Bulls team has been characterized by having heart, passion and the ubiquitous "grit", but despite being the clearest advantage the Bulls possesses and a mainstay in Coach Tom Thibodeau's vernacular, the words that haven't been heard enough, "Mental Toughness".
"If you have a point to make to the official, there is an appropriate time to do that and it's during a dead ball. When the ball is live you have one responsibility, get back and get set. Help your team," Coach Thibodeau after Game 2.
More concerning than the score last night however, was the lack of mental effort given by the Bulls. The result was bad without question, but I don't believe it was indicative of the Bulls chances of winning this series. Game 1 featured the same players and netted a much different outcome.
However while talent is essential to winning, none is required to maintain composure and mentally prioritize during the game. Last night the Bulls seemed far too concerned with receiving equal treatment from refs, getting their point across immediately and flying home.
Regardless of outside opinion, this is a very winnable series for the Bulls. We all know they have an extremely small margin for error against the heat, but you cannot compound that by allowing external forces like referees and their calls take you out of your game.
"We are capable of much better," Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said, adding: "You're going to get hit. You have to own your space. You can't allow people to get you back on your heels. That has to be corrected."
Coach Thibodeau was right in challenging his team to, ‘own their space'. If the Bulls are sincere in their desire to win this series they must first own the most important space of all, the one between their ears.