Bulls determined to get back on track in Game 2


Apr 21

Winning a best of seven series in the NBA Playoffs can often come down to making adjustments, particularly when you have a fourth seed meeting a fifth seed, as is the case with the Bulls and Wizards.

So it comes as no surprise that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said his team will be making several following a 102-93 Game 1 loss in which Chicago relinquished a double digit lead in the second half.

“We’ve got to make a lot,” said Thibodeau on Monday. “We’ve got to be ready to go and we’ve got to play for 48 minutes. We’re up 13 and we started playing loose.”

Mike Dunleavy and the Bulls take aim at evening their first round series with Washington on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m.

Mike Dunleavy and the Bulls take aim at evening their first round series with Washington on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m.

During the regular season, Chicago was 41-5 overall (23-3 at home, 18-2 on the road) when leading its opponent entering the final quarter.

The Bulls took a 75-72 advantage into the fourth only to see the Wizards overcome it and hold on for the victory. That was certainly one of a few things on Thibodeau’s mind as he readies his team for Tuesday’s Game 2.

“There’s an endless list of things that we didn’t do correctly,” said Thibodeau of Game 1. “We’re capable of doing them much better and we’re going to have to. They’re a good team. In the playoffs, you have to play for 48 minutes. You have to be disciplined and you have to stick to it. Some plays, they made tough plays. You give them credit.”

Thibodeau pointed to team defense as one major area of emphasis as Chicago tries to even the series at 1-1.

“We’ve got to get tied together,” said Thibodeau. “We’ve got to have the proper amount of intensity and concentration, and we have to finish our defense.”

Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy acknowledged that the team was disappointed in its effort on Sunday.

“To give up 102 points in a playoff game for us is unacceptable,” said Dunleavy. “But you give [the Wizards] credit; they played pretty well. They did some good stuff and they’re going to play better on Tuesday. So our defense is going to have to be a whole lot better.”

Though Washington’s backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal shot a combined 7-25 from the field in the opener, the Wizards still managed to connect on 48.6 percent of their attempts.

Thibodeau credited the Wizards for the way they kept grinding, challenged shots and rebounded the ball. He said that Chicago recorded only 13 assists was a concern, but that part of it is doing a better job converting offensively.

“We’ve got to make shots,” said Thibodeau. “That’s a big part of the game. We’re not going to get away from the guys who have gotten us there. But there are certain things that we can do to help each other get open and we’re going to have to do that.”

So, yes, adjustments must and will be made. But in the Bulls’ case, perhaps most of those adjustments can be simply doing what they’ve done so well all year for, as Thibodeau likes to say, 48 minutes. And that starts with the intangibles.

“Our overall intensity needs to be better—our alertness, our awareness,” said Dunleavy. “We’ll tinker a few things here and there, but most of it is kind of an effort thing.”

Intensity was a word that more than one Bulls player used following the Game 1 defeat. It’s an element the Bulls seemed to rarely lack throughout the regular season. As their first round series continues, it will be vital to get it back and keep it in place.

“We played with an edge all year long,” noted Dunleavy. “We just went too many spurts [Sunday] night without it. I think we came out at the beginning of the game and were a little flat. First playoff game, I guess that type of stuff happens. But once we got our stuff together and we got the 13 point lead in the second half, we dropped off again. We can’t have too many of those in the next one.”

“Your will and determination are important,” said Thibodeau. “I felt like they got to the loose balls, the 50/50 balls they got to. So it’s going to be, how badly do we want it? Are you willing to fight? Are you going to allow yourself to be pushed around? Those things all factor into it.”

Audio—Tom Thibodeau on making adjustments for Game 2 (04.21.2014):

Audio—Mike Dunleavy on bouncing back against Washington (04.21.2014):

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