CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls have become one of the top defensive teams in the league since Tom Thibodeau was hired over three years ago. Derrick Rose thinks they’ve got the ability to keep improving.
"I think we could become a better defensive team than we did in the past," Rose said after Monday's shootaround. "I think all the guys that are working right now, they're putting their all into the defensive end. Everybody. So for us we just got to stay together getting our chemistry (going) where we're jelling out there. Really just focus on the defensive end, because offensively I think we're going to be all right."
The problem for the Bulls is that at this point chemistry is going to be hard to develop before the season. Joakim Noah (groin), Kirk Hinrich (concussion) and Jimmy Butler (knee) are all out for Monday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The starters have not played together once this preseason and it appears unlikely at this point that it will happen before next Tuesday's regular season opener in Miami.
"It's hard but you can't use it as an excuse," Rose said. "You still got to come out here and play these games and try to get better as a team still. They're on the sideline working. Kirk is getting back healthy. Joakim, he's good, and we're just waiting."
The key in Rose's mind is that, aside from Butler, the Bulls' core has been in place for a few years. They know how to play with one another so the adjustment shouldn't be as tough to overcome.
"We should be fine," Rose said. "The guys, they know their jobs. When they came in -- Jimmy when he did play, his defense is what we need out of him. Joakim's energy, and you know Kirk, he's going to bring a solid game with running the team and knocking down open shots so I think all the guys on the team know their role. It's just that we got to get them out there."
Rose appears to be in fine form after scoring 32 points in 31 minutes in last Friday's win over the Indiana Pacers. Thibodeau had some fun with the media when asked how many minutes he expected Rose to play against the Bucks.
"(Between) zero to 48," he said.
Rose, who came back into the game to play the final 5:50 against the Pacers, sounds like he'll be fine with whatever decision Thibodeau makes.
"It's not up to me," Rose said. "It's really up to Thibs. If he allows me to play I'm going to go out there and play but if not (and) he tells me to chill for the night, depending on how the game goes, I'm just going to listen to him."