Welcome back to sorta-weird Bullsian stuff. I guess that can happen when the losses start piling, and last night's crudtactular in Cleveland looked to be particularly frustrating to everyone.
Even Derrick Rose, with some rare cussin'.
"It's like we're not even competing." Derrick Rose lets out his frustration after Bulls fall again. VIDEO: http://t.co/w6k8DTtq1O— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 20, 2015
Thibs has had a few of these post-game challenges lately, as Monday's was detailed by Sam Smith:
It’s especially rankled Thibodeau, who called a Tuesday practice despite the team’s first two-day break in a month. Thibodeau for the first time as Bulls coach talked about possible lineup changes and almost gave one of those Rick Pitino "Bird and McHale are not walking through the door" speeches in annoyed post game comments. Thibodeau said this is the Bulls group and roster for the season, and they are the ones to figure it out. He challenged the players, in effect, repeatedly saying it was up to them to decide when "enough is enough."
Taj Gibson has been one of the more vocal Bulls on his teammates being, well, more vocal. He had this to say:
We got to practice harder. We can't be taking days off...It comes from within. There's nothing more you can say. It's all about how much heart you have and how determined you're going to be.
But a funny thing happened early on Tuesday: practice was cancelled. Nick Friedell said the 'players voices' supported not practicing given their heavy game-laden schedule this month, and KC Johnson is saying the team was looking forward to a 'choice' of coming in for workout/film that day in lieu of a scheduled practice. He also had a potentially telling quote from Pau Gasol, one that's pretty definitively the opposite of Taj:
Gasol postgame: "We have two days between games we haven't had in over a month so it will be good to recover and go back to work Wednesday."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 20, 2015
The Bulls have a lot going against them at the moment. A combination of slumping, injuries, and lack of depth in key areas all contributing to the losses. It's possible that a fallout of Thibsball is occurring as well: guys not being used to the heavy workload (Gasol) or unable to due to restrictions (Rose, Noah), plus maybe some players focusing on their offense and role at the expense of Thibsian D lately (Butler, Gibson)? It's tough to get anything beyond speculation, but: the defense, overall approach and effort of the team right now just isn't where it has been in Thibs-teams past, even (or especially?) the ones without Derrick Rose.
You could argue that a midseason letup is actually what we've been asking for, as opposed to the all-out regular season championship that wears down the team by April. However, I don't think Thibs has changed his approach, and thus it's worrisome that his usual isn't working as well with this group this year.