Tom Thibodeau is the X factor

I've always thought that a good coach could add a few wins in the regular season. Perhaps keep a team together that was otherwise falling apart. Get guys to try a little harder on defense. Perhaps craft a few creative inbounds plays in key situations. Tom Thibodeau is so much more.

I wrote an article a couple of days ago questioning Tom Thibodeau's coaching ability if he can't get us out of the first round this season. However, that was back before the playoffs started. When the memory of playoff basketball was washed away with the one of regular season basketball. I foolishly have to retract all of that.

Like every year, I'd gotten a bit too wrapped up in the regular season, knowing playing basketball is different but forgetting just how different until the playoffs started and the fact slapped me in the face again.

The Bulls are heading into the playoffs with Nate Robinson as their best offensive creator. Seriously. End of bench Nate Robinson, can't stick with a team Nate Robinson, minimum salary Nate Robinson.

In the playoffs you need guys to step up and make great individual offensive efforts. We're back in the world where there's a greater emphasis on creating in isolation and teams ratchet up the defense about three notches. A world where the Luol Deng's of the world suddenly have a much more difficult time getting their shots off.

We're not just bringing a knife to a gun fight, we're bringing a butter knife.

After watching the Nets demolish Chicago in game one, you got a feel for how big the talent gap was. In game two, the talent gap was the same, but the Bulls didn't care.

They out worked Brooklyn. They wanted it more. They had the will to win. Joakim Noah physically beasted them with a tear in his foot and about 50% mobility. It wasn't an aesthetically pleasing game, but Chicago just went out there punched the Nets in the face and took their lunch money.

This was an extension of their coach. An extension of the belief that the next man CAN step up, WILL step up, HAS to step up. There are no excuses, no concerns about who isn't there, who's playing at 50%, when you're on the court you will do your job. You will do your job better than the guy across from you.

Thibodeau's belief, work ethic, scheme, and will flow through the players on the court. After two games, I've come to the conclusion there's no way the Bulls should win this series, but that's the great thing about sports. What 'should' happen frequently doesn't. If what should happen doesn't, it will be because of Tom Thibodeau and the culture he's installed all year, every day, from the first scrimmage to the last playoff game.

Can the Bulls continue to outwork the Nets? Can they continue to win on willpower, hustle, and grit? It's a tall order, and one I don't think they pull off. The great thing is that no one in that Bulls locker room agrees with me. They all know differently. They all know they can do it, will do it, and that irrational confidence and mental toughness will give them a chance.

Down their transcendent talent and with injuries littering the roster, the Bulls stay in the playoffs won't last past the second round if it gets that far. Regardless of the results, you can be proud of this team. They give you everything on the court. Everything. That's all you can ever ask for of the players, and these players deliver.


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  • Thibs is by far the biggest reason this year why this Bulls team is where they are now. Had Thibs had more offensive talent on this team to go along with the defensive strategy that he make the players believe in I have no doubt that the Bulls could get out of the first round and really give the Heat a serious challenge for the eastern conference crown.

  • you're right. I believe that Thibodeau is such a great coach that if some players ever start tuning him out they should trade them, not fire the coach as is usually the rule. He is the franchise right now, if you replace him for any middling coach you might lose about 15-20 wins.

    The only sad thing about this thibodeau situation is that it makes the failure of the front office to bring in top talent most evident. VDN just won 55 games!

  • game 2 was one of my proudest moments as a Bulls fan... game 1 was probably the most i've ever doubted this team and the the worst i ever felt in terms of just frustrations with injuries, with the Rose saga... and then game 2 was the perfect remedy for that!

  • In reply to HINrichPolice:

    I agree I felt the same. After the team folded last year in the playoffs and coming out and laying a major egg in game one really got me riled up. Got frustrated that Rose wasn't playing after a year and that Paxson couldn't find a offensive player if he got punched in the face by one. Was really proud to see them step up and give their all in game 2 and not roll over and give up. I think they would if Noah wasn't out there. Although maybe it wouldn't be giving up as much as being too overmatched without Noah.

  • Thibs is a great coach not sure who else could do so much with so little. On talent alone Nets should wipe the floor with them but they are underachievers and Bulls are nothing if not scrappy overachievers. I believe a lot of that is coaching and being able to maximize talents is what makes a great coach. Could be the homer in me but I would say he is top 3 or 4 in the NBA.

  • Best coach in the NBA the last three seasons. The guy maximizes talent and gets the most out of his roster year in year out.

  • Back when Stiles was coaching the Bulls, the same thing was said about him -- and it was true about him also. Altho Thibs is better -- he did it again with a totally revamped bench this year.

    However, the Bulls need more talent. Hopefully it will be on the way, some this summer and the balance in 2014. Another piece like Butler, keep Robinson and Belli, and and one more star like Rose - that might be enough.

  • why do the bulls turn in bunch of jittery wusses every other game?

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    ok.. they grew some balls quickly

  • The Bulls have got to get someone other than Rose that can score in a tight game going down the stretch. Nate should've been in the 4th are. a long time ago.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    the problem isn't so much that they can't score because they suck but rather it seems they start trying to run out the clock when the game gets under 4 min. Kirk was holding the ball till there were 5 left on the shot clock on every posession. It's a real dumbass strategy, and they are lucky they didnt get burned for it this time.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Well, doesn't that point directly to Hinrich's (and other Bulls') inability to create on offense?

  • In reply to Edward:

    nah cause they could score (not great but still) throughout the game cause they were running plays and moving around. The last 5 minutes they started trying to run out the clock by having kirk stand at half court till there were 8 seconds left. Now, we all know the bulls are completely uncapable of creating a shot in the half court with less than 10 seconds on the clock. So that's why it's a dumbass strategy, they basically made sure they would never score again.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Don't forget they had about 4 turnovers during that stretch....

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yes, down the stretch I was asking myself, "Where's Nate?"

    Bulls did not score a single FG the last 5:46 of the 4th quarter. Only scoring 2 that time. Pathetic offense and lack of ability to create or even get to the FT line. A large amount of luck that Brooklyn was cold down the stretch, I don't think the defense can take all the credit for that.

  • What's up with jimmy?? He can't buy a bucket .. He's getting wide OPEN shots! Johnson is hurt he should be taking advantage of that. Glad to see they feed boozer more. They needed to give him the ball down the stretch though. Boozers defense was pretty good too! Did I just say that?!! Lol

    We need Nate jimmy and beli to have big game 4. With repeat performance from hinrich boozer and deng. Hope we can get this game. We never do well in early games tho! Eh

  • great coach, i don't think another coach could get 45 wins with this injury plagued group. I definitely think he's top 5 coach in the NBA but he's a bit flawed when it comes to minute distribution and resting his players.

    Whoever the Bulls pick this year in the draft, especially a young center needs to see some floor time.....10 minutes a game to develop but also give some rest to Noah......the minutes do add up, thats why excellent coaches like Popovich know how to ride out the year and keep most of their players healthy for the big dance(playoffs start).

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