Thibodeau wants Bulls ready to play at home


May 15

This year, including the regular season, Chicago is 41-6 at the United Center. The Bulls posted the best home record in the NBA this year at 36-5.

As far as Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls are concerned, that trend can continue as their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat gets underway Sunday in Chicago.

Prior to Game 1, Thibodeau discussedwhy the Bulls have enjoyed so much success at home this season.

“Readiness to play,” said Thibodeau, the first rookie head coach since Indiana’s Larry Bird in 1998 to coach his team to the Conference Finals. “In order to play well, you have to build the right habits. Defensively, we’ve been strong. Derrick [Rose] getting into the open floor and getting easy baskets, and being a strong rebounding team. That lends itself to playing well at home.”

While the Bulls may not have been at their best against the Indiana Pacers in the first round and at times looked vulnerable in the Eastern Conference Semifinals facing the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago has won 8 of its 11 postseason games. Regardless, Thibodeau isn’t about to dwell on the past.

“It’s the next game in front of you,” said Thibodeau of Game 1. “You concentrate on what’s in front of you and you don’t look back. You’re not looking ahead; you’re just focusing in on what’s in front of you. Hopefully we’ve prepared well , we’ve learned, and we’re ready to go.”

In three meetings with the Heat this season, the Bulls were 3-0—the only team in the NBA to sweep Miami besides the Dallas Mavericks—with neither team scoring 100 points. It’s safe to say that both sides expect scoring not to come easily with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.

“They’re a strong defensive team,” said Thibodeau of the Heat. “We’d like to think we’re a strong defensive team. Baskets will be hard to get. I think it will be how well you execute and readiness to play at the start is critical. And you want to get established defensively at the start of the game.”

Rose shoots his way into Wade’s territory

Derrick Rose made at least 10 field goals in the first five games versus Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Only one other player in the NBA has accomplished that in each of the first five games of any playoff series this year or last: Dwyane Wade versus Boston in 2010 (Elias Sports Bureau). It was the first time in Rose’s three-year career that he made 10 or more field goals in five consecutive games.

Bulls and Heat NBA Playoffs news and notes

Chicago swept the season series (3-0) against the Heat for the first time since the 1991-92 campaign … the Bulls won the three games by an average of 2.6 points (8 points combined) … the Bulls and Heat have not met in the playoffs since an Eastern Conference First Round matchup in 2007 that Chicago won 4-1 … Chicago is advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998, while Miami last advanced to the Conference Finals in 2006 (on their way to winning the NBA Championship) … this also marks the second time these two teams have met in the Conference Finals (1997: Bulls won 4-1) … in three games this season, Derrick Rose averaged a team high 29.0 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 3.3 rpg, while Dwyane Wade posted 29.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.7 apg in three games against the Bulls … this marks the fourth time in Heat franchise history that have advanced to the Conference Finals (1997: Lost to Bulls 4-1, 2005: Lost to Pistons 4-3, 2006: Defeated the Pistons 4-2).

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (05.15.2011):

Audio—Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s pregame comments (05.15.2011):

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