Thibodeau gets better look at bigger lineup


Oct 15

With Taj Gibson out on Friday with a sore right heel, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau saw an opportunity to experiment with a different lineup, moving Joakim Noah to the power forward position and bumping rookie Omer Asik into the starting spot at center as the Bulls hosted the Dallas Mavericks.

The move to rest Gibson was mainly for precautionary reasons, said Thibodeau.

“We’re just giving him a little rest because it’s an opportunity to take a look at the bigger lineup,” Thibodeau explained. “It will be a good test for us. They’re a tough team and they pose a lot of problems in the way they shoot and move the ball. They’re a great execution team. It will be a good challenge for us.”

Gibson agreed, saying that he would have played if it were a regular season game. His status for Saturday’s game in Orlando is yet to be determined, but Gibson said there was a chance he would play.

“I turned it a little bit and the heel ended up being sore,” said Gibson of the injury. “We’re not sure if it has something to do with my plantar fasciitis [suffered last season], but everything is fine for now. The training staff just wanted me to take it easy.

“It’s nowhere near as painful as last year,” stressed Gibson, who did not participate in the team’s shootaround earlier in the day. “Last year was excruciating pain, but I was able to play through it. They asked me if I could play [on Friday] and without a doubt I could play.”

With a mark of 2-2 halfway through the preseason, Thibodeau took an opportunity to discuss what the Bulls are doing well, in addition to what the team needs to improve upon.

“Offensively, we’re sharing the ball and playing really unselfishly,” reported Thibodeau. “The one thing we want to improve on is our turnovers. They’re creeping up on us and we need to correct that. We’re trying to make the right play, but trying to thread the needle too much. Hit the first open man in front and keep it simple. When we do that, the ball keeps moving and we keep moving.

“The rebounding has improved some, but we still think it could be better,” Thibodeau continued. “Defensively, we’re not guarding the three-point line as well as we’d like. Part of that is, at times, there is an overreaction to penetration. We’re helping at times where we probably shouldn’t. We’re leaving the corners too much. The big thing is that we want to continue to challenge shots. We have to take care of the ball first, then the paint, then react out and cover that line. It requires us to make multiple efforts and we’re getting there.”

Thibodeau also shared a few items from his “wish list” for the remaining exhibition games, including pairing Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson in the backcourt for stretches, getting Luol Deng minutes at power forward, continuing to see how Noah and Asik share the low post, and narrowing down a rotation for once the regular season arrives.

The season opener on Oct. 27 in Oklahoma City is less than two weeks away. Until then, there is work to be done.

Audio—Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (10.15.10):

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