It’s not about now anymore. It’s about five weeks from now.
That’s not completely a sentiment shared by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who it seems has pushed his players hard, trying to get the top seed in the East. For him, playing is how you get ready for the playoffs, he told the Chicago Tribune.
“Somehow this notion that you can miss the entire season and come back in the playoffs and play well, I haven’t seen that. So I don’t know what people are talking about. You have to build the right habits so you can perform well when it matters most.”
But he will have to wait a while for Derrick Rose. The reigning MVP is not even running yet — or even walking with a normal gait — following his groin injury and Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson describes him as week-to-week not day-to-day.
Richard Hamilton is just now able to lift his arm above his sprained shoulder and will still be out a while.
The Bulls are still winning — they are an amazing 11-4 without Rose — and still are three games ahead of the Heat for the best record in the East. Thibodeau and the Bulls need Rose and Hamilton right for the playoffs, even if that means sitting for longer than Thibodeau would like.
With just 17 games remaining, Thibodeau fielded a question on the ideal number of games at full strength to build continuity for the postseason.
“As many as possible,” he said.