You can hear the shouting, the ball bouncing on the floor and the familiar sound of sneakers squeaking against hardwood, but shades are pulled tightly over windows looking out on the court at the Berto Center during training camp practices, which means Friday night's exhibition opener against the Pacers in Indianapolis will be everybody's first glimpse at the Bulls this season.
"Any time they throw the ball up it's an opportunity to compete and we want to establish who we are," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So the minutes will be a little bit different but I want our guys to go hard."
With only two exhibition games during a compressed preseason schedule that is the product of the NBA lockout, expect starters to see more time than usual.
"You have to get to your rotation," Thibodeau said. "You don't have the luxury of eight preseason games. Normally, under those circumstances, you can give guys a game off maybe on a back to back. We're fortunate where the games aren't back to back. And again, we approach all our preseason games with the idea that we're preparing for that first game. So, we're taking it day by day. We want to move forward, practice hard and then the first game will be an opportunity for us to compete against somebody else. We want to establish who we are."
Friday night's game, and the Bulls only home exhibition against the same Pacers on Tuesday night at the United Center, will give Thibodeau a chance to get all his perrsonnel groups on the floor.
"The first one gives you a baseline and an idea of the things you have to clean up and work on," Thibodeau said. "The second one you're going to be more into your rotation in that game. But, like I said, it's the first opportunity for us to compete as a team."
That's said, there's a long list of things he'll be looking for his team to accomplish against the Pacers.
"It's always the same whether it's practice or a game. You're establishing your defense, your rebounding, you're taking care of the ball, you eliminate all the ways in which you beat yourself first. You want to establish the inside-out attack and you want to share the ball.