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Bulls hoping to prove resilient once again
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Apr 25
Facing adversity is hardly anything new for the Chicago Bulls. So perhaps as they prepare for Friday’s Game 3 in Washington D.C. facing a 2-0 deficit, they are as equipped as any team to respond with a victory.
“We’ve been counted out all season long, many times,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after Friday morning’s shootaround at the Verizon Center. “It’s a resilient group. Just bounce back. We understand what goes into winning. It takes four to win a series. We’re just trying to get the first one.”
As for how the Bulls will rise up to the challenge after coming up short in a pair of games at home, their hope is that consistency is the key.
“The same way we got up for Game 1,” said Jimmy Butler. “We play to win and we play extremely hard. We need this one, we’ve got to have it, without a doubt, without a question. We know what we have to do so we just have to go out and do it.”
Averaging 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.00 steals in 48.4 minutes through two postseason games, Butler’s scoring is down slightly from the regular season but Thibodeau applauded him for making the right plays this series.
“He’s done a good job,” said Thibodeau of Butler. “He’s playing a lot of minutes and he’s got a tough assignment [guarding Washington’s Bradley Beal]. The thing I like about Jimmy is he doesn’t get discouraged. He’ll keep fighting. He has to guard everyone, he’s got to play make, and we ask him to do a lot. I don’t judge him on his scoring; I judge him on his contributions to winning. He’s done a lot for our team.”
Butler played a playoff career-high 53 minutes in Game 2 on Tuesday. He said on Friday he feels good physically and he’s ready to go. He’s more concerned with being productive on both ends of the floor. Known for being a defensive-minded player, Butler wants to try and be more aggressive offensively as the series continues.
“I forget to be an offensive player at times, which can’t happen,” Butler said. “But we’ve talked about it. So it won’t happen.”
While obviously an 0-2 start is not what the Bulls envisioned as the postseason began, players say their confidence is intact and spirits are up.
“The mood is great. The mood is exciting. The mood is guys feel there’s an opportunity to go out there and shock the world basically,” said Taj Gibson.
“We’ve been having good looks,” Gibson added of the Bulls’ late game offensive woes. “We just couldn’t knock them down. Normally, guys like myself, D.J. [Augustin] and Kirk [Hinrich], we knock certain kind of shots down. In the playoffs, it’s been different. There are no excuses. We have to handle business.”
As for Thibodeau’s message to his team, he kept it simple. Come prepared, pay attention to the little things, make the extra effort, and yes, do it all for 48 minutes.
“Just be ready to go,” said Thibodeau. “It comes down to a couple loose balls. [The Wizards] turned them into threes [in Game 2]. We’ve got to finish the game better and we’ve got to start the game better.”
It’s an us against the world mentality that the Bulls have adopted, explained Butler. But again, that’s nothing new for this team.
“I’ve felt like it’s been like that for us all year,” said Butler. “But it’s basketball. The better team is going to win. I think we’ve got a great shot tonight and all of our guys are ready. We’re going to go on fighting and get this win.”
Audio—Tom Thibodeau on coming ready to play in Friday’s Game 3 (04.25.2014):
Audio—Jimmy Butler on his desire to be productive on both ends of the court (04.25.2014):