First-year coach Tom Thibodeau has given the Bulls more days off from practice than any of his immediate predecessors, from Vinny Del Negro to Tim Floyd.
The obvious explanation is the Bulls are also having their greatest success since the championship era ended in 1998, so the team has earned the extra time off. Thibodeau learned the importance of keeping his players fresh during the last three seasons when he was in assistant coach in Boston, which had an older team.
But after losing to Philadelphia on Monday, which snapped the Bulls' 14-game home winning streak, Thibodeau suggested practice habits need to change.
"The one thing I do know is when you practice well, you play well," he said. "If you're not putting a lot into practice, you're not going to have an edge in the game. If you don't have an edge in the game, you're putting yourself in a bad position."
Thibodeau also confirmed that he considers the morning shootaround a practice, which is where he thought the Bulls came up short on Monday. His players were more than willing to take blame for the lack of energy at the start of the game and vowed to turn things around.
"As a player, you don't really think about it like that," guard Derrick Rose said of the poor shootaround. "As a coach, you see everything. He was just telling us, warning us. It definitely came back and haunted us. (Tuesday), we'll get a chance to practice. Usually after we practice, we go on a run."
The Bulls still led the Eastern Conference by two games after Monday's loss, but now Miami might be the biggest threat. The Heat and Celtics were tied for second place through Monday.
Next up for the Bulls is a trip to Minnesota on Wednesday. As of Tuesday morning, the Timberwolves owned the second-worst record in the NBA, so on paper this appears to be a good time for the Bulls to turn things around.
These teams first met on Dec. 11 at the United Center, and the Bulls rolled to a 113-82 victory. Minnesota forward Kevin Love, the league's top rebounder, has been out with an injury, and his status is questionable for this game.
SIXERS 97, BULLS 85: The Bulls dug themselves into an early deficit, which isn't unusual, but this time they couldn't turn the tables. After falling behind by 23 points in the second quarter, the Bulls never got closer than four in the fourth and lost to Philadelphia on Monday at the United Center. The defeat snapped the Bulls' 14-game home winning steak. Guard Derrick Rose led the home team with 31 points but also piled up 10 turnovers and blamed himself for the loss. The 76ers had six players reach double figures, led by forward Thaddeus Young with 21 points. With the Bulls still within striking distance in the final minutes, Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes helped put the game away by knocking down three straight outside jumpers.
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