Bulls feel similarities to last season

NEW YORK -- As the Bulls get set to open another postseason run Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets, the similarities to last season's ill-fated run remain.

With all the injuries the team has dealt with and the fact that Derrick Rose is unlikely to play no matter how deep the Bulls go, Tom Thibodeau's players can see that their situation looks a lot like it did last season.

"It's kind of similar in a lot of ways," Bulls guard Rip Hamilton said. "It's kind of similar. It's like, if you look at both situations and you look at this year's situation, it's kind of like identical."

No matter how many ups and downs the Bulls have endured, Thibodeau's attitude regarding his team doesn't seem to change.

"You've got to be at your best," Thibodeau said. "[The games] are going to be hard fought. The thing that makes the playoffs different, you're playing the same team over and over again. You got to have a lot of toughness. When you face adversity, you got to be able to get through things. You have to play for 48 minutes. You got to play tough."

One person who won't be playing 48 minutes is Hamilton. After being a part of so many important playoff games over the season, the veteran shooter finds himself coming off the bench heading into this series, and he knows it's going to be an adjustment. Second-year guard Jimmy Butler is expected to start at the 2-guard position.

"I'm a basketball player, so I'll figure it out," Hamilton said. "I've played in this league long enough to understand the game and knowing what the team needs at the time, so it won't be a problem."

Gibson changes number: Brooklyn native Taj Gibson is excited to play against his hometown team in the playoffs, but he went out of his way to make sure he could stay focused on the games by changing his phone number.

“I definitely changed my number," Gibson said. "I changed it right away. A lot of people were mad. I gave it to the rest of my teammates today. So no distractions.”

Gibson admitted recently just how much playing in Brooklyn means to him -- having grown up near Barclays Center.

"It's a crazy feeling," Gibson said after Wednesday night's regular-season finale. "I don't know how this chapter in my life was written. I always thought about just making the playoffs, never even once in my life thought there would be a team in Brooklyn. Now there's a team in Brooklyn. Me and Joakim [Noah] are really going home to try and get a win."

As for his minutes in the series, Gibson is feeling better about his knee each day. He missed most of the final month and a half of the regular season because of a sprained MCL.

“It’s going to be up in the air," Gibson said of his minutes. "I’ll have to see how my body reacts. But it’s playoffs; it’s all out.”