Tom Thibodeau’s initial training camp plan always had Saturday marked as a practice day, a rare time the Bulls’ coach has worked his team with two days between games.
But his sense of urgency for doing so was underscored further Friday night, both before and after the Bulls’ exhibition victory over the Pacers. Unblemished preseason mark or not, Thibodeau sounded like the perfectionist he is demanding more with the regular-season opener nine days away.
To wit, here’s Thibodeau before Friday’s game: “We’re capable of doing much better.” And here’s Thibodeau afterward: “I didn’t like the way we played at all.”
And for good measure, Thibodeau saved this for Saturday: “We didn’t play anywhere near 48 minutes of good basketball.”
At least he’s consistent, which, by his account, his team hasn’t been in terms of attention to detail and practice intensity.
“You need a team to make a commitment to each other,” Thibodeau said. “You have to put everything you have into each day. Practice is critical. The opener is going to be here soon. And that’s going to be the moment of truth. You have to be careful not to take any shortcuts. You have to put the work in.”
And so the Bulls did Saturday. They watched film. They did offensive drills. They didn’t have much contact, but that will come Sunday in the second of the rare, back-to-back Berto Center sessions.
“This is an opportunity to get two good days in,” Thibodeau said. “We had a good film session (Saturday), which allows you to see things. Sometimes you may think you’re going hard or you’re executing correctly. And then once you look at film, you can see that you can do it a lot better.”
Anyone who has witnessed Thibodeau’s first three seasons in Chicago knows his demands often are more mental than physical. Former guard Kyle Korver used to joke that Thibodeau would pace the Bulls through that night’s opponent’s eighth option on a side-out-of-bounds play for preparation.
In other words, his expectations are serious stuff.
“People can say it’s the preseason but at the same time, we’re trying to build as a team,” Derrick Rose said. “We have a young team. And we’re hungry right now. We’re trying to win every game.
“We’re trying to build those traits so that in the playoffs and in the season we’re fine and we’ll have been through a lot. We work really hard as a team.”
Thibodeau is making sure of that this weekend.