SAN ANTONIO --- The more you hear Tom Thibodeau talk about coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs the more it sounds like he wants to build the Bulls in their image.
"He's wearing more than one hat here so he has to weigh a lot of things into his decision making," Thibodeau said of the long-time Spurs coach. "When you look at what he's done for such a long period of time, to me they are the gold standard of the league because every year they find a way to be right at the top and they always have a chance."
Much of what Thibodeau has established since taking over the Bulls Popovich long-ago created with the Spurs while winning four NBA titles.
"It's the way their built," Thibodeau said. "They have everything covered. They are hard-playing, smart, tough, they can shoot, they're team oriented, they sacrifice for each other, they play for each other. They've had injuries. When one guy goes down another guy stands up. Pop has provided great leadership here for a long time."
As much as Thibodeau is considered a defensive coach, when he talks about offense he's usually preaching balance, which makes a team that much more difficult to defend.
The Spurs are typically among the league's most balanced teams.
"They always have the transition [game] you have to concern yourself with, then there's always off the dribble," Thibodeau said. "Of course, [Tony] Parker is as tough as they come with the pick and roll and transition. Then there's Manu Ginobili when he plays. He gives them that other guy with the pick and roll and catch and shoot and [Tim] Duncan is still good enough where they have every aspect covered. When you add in their three-point shooting and their execution, there's not one aspect of their offense that's weak.
"They have it all covered. They keep pressure on you at all times and they play unselfishly. They're going to make you pay for body position mistakes, you've got to take care of the ball, the paint, you have to react out and cover the line and [DeJuan] Blair is very active on the offensive boards so there is constant pressure on you and they're smart. They're not going to turn it over and beat themselves."