Tom Thibodeau is known for riding players hard during the regular season, playing the top Bulls heavy minutes.
Gregg Popovich has the exact opposite reputation. His Spurs starters frequently get full nights off and rest plenty when they do play.
The coaches have reversed roles this preseason.
In two overseas games, Tim Duncan has played 34.0 minutes per game and Tony Parker 35.5. Duncan hasn’t received so many minutes per game in any of the last six seasons. For Parker, so many minutes would represent a career high.
On the other hand, Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy have each sat one of the Bulls’ preseason game. Noah is averaging just 19.0 minutes in his two games, and Derrick Rose has played 16.7 minutes per game.
Thibodeau, via Mark Strotman of CSN Chicago:
“I’m watching San Antonio and they’re going after it,” Thibodeau said prior to the Bulls’ Monday night contest against the Denver Nuggets. “(Tony) Parker, (Tim) Duncan are playing huge minutes right off the start. I think that’s a sign of their readiness to start the season.”
It’s something Thibodeau would like to eventually use with his team in the regular season, health permitting.
“I’m looking at their box score and I watched a little bit of their game,” Thibodeau said of the Spurs, who played Saturday night in Istanbul. “I think it’s a strong message what they’re saying right now. They’re preparing themselves to defend their championship. And in order to get that away from them you’re going to have to wrestle it from them.
“I think you need a great commitment from your team if you want to do something special. That commitment has to start at the beginning and it has to remain throughout.”
Many people have wanted Thibodeau to emulate Popovich’s strategy for using and resting players. It’s SO Thibodeau to do it now, the one time Popovich is leaning heavily on his veterans.