Tom Thibodeau promised after the Phoenix loss that some changes had to be made, especially for a Bulls team that was a very average 10-10 at home. The starting lineup is expected to be the same against Atlanta tonight, the bench rotation will be the same, heck, even the shootaround time was the same.
"What we've got to change is our approach, how we go about doing our jobs,'' the Bulls head coach insisted on Monday afternoon. "Everyone has to get their job done, that's the most important thing. You can't say, well the starting group, it's their fault or the bench, it's their fault. It's the teams' fault right now, it's everybody. We have to correct it, that's what we have to do.
"I'm concerned we're making some of the same mistakes that we made earlier in the year, and so I want the focus back on our improvement, day-by-day. I want us to understand how we win, and understand the commitment necessary to win.''
Here are the three keys to the Atlanta game, as they welcome "Hot Sauce'' Kyle Korver back after he spent the last two seasons with the Bulls:
1. Stop Korver - Atlanta's bigs feed off the fact that they have more space to operate now that Kyle Korver is on the perimeter taking up attention. He was a long-range sniper that was able to spread the floor with the Bulls, and now he's offering up the same services for the Hawks, sent there in a trade to move salary in the offseason.
In the first meeting back on Dec. 22, Korver was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc, scoring 13 points, but center Al Horford put up 20, while Josh Smith added 12. The Bulls have been inconsistent on closing out on three-point shooters this season, and they can't blink against Korver.
2. Protect the house - Everyone was healthy and participated in the shootaround, and now Thibodeau wants everyone ready to focus in on the game. There are no magic wands to change the 10-10 home record, accept getting back to the lunch-pail team that Thibodeau wants them to be.
"Obviously we're disappointed with it, but I don't want us to change how we have to approach each and every day,'' Thibodeau said. "You can't get caught looking backwards and not focusing in on what's in front of you now, which is improvement, being ready to play, and understanding how you win. So that's where I want our focus to be, on making the necessary steps on to improve so we can be successful.''
3. Booze cruise - In the 92-75 loss to the Hawks last month, Carlos Boozer scored just eight points and was basically a no-show. The Bulls have been searching him out early in games so far this month and he's been huge for them. Keep that formula going, especially against a smaller lineup like the Hawks throw out there.