DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Why are the Bulls so bad at home and so solid on the road? That's the question Tom Thibodeau and his team are trying to figure out as they get set to face the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at the United Center.
The veteran coach isn't quite sure why the Bulls are 10-10 at the United Center and 10-5 on the road, but he thinks he's got a pretty good idea on what can be done to fix the problem.
"What we got to change is the approach and how we go about doing our jobs," Thibodeau said after Monday's shootaround. "Everyone's got to get the job done. I think 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 team's fault right now. It's everybody. We got to correct it. That's what we have to do and I'm concerned we're making some of the same mistakes 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 I want us to understand the commitment that's necessary to win."
As to what that entails, Thibodeau believes his team must get back to basics as far as preparation goes.
"You got to go step by step," Thibodeau said. "So you start getting ready now, you practice well, you don't get bored with the process, you come in tonight, you get focused in the locker room, you get ready to play, you know your opponent, and then you have to think about how you're going to do your job and then you have to get out there and do your job.
"You have to be able to count on each other -- a five man offensive team, a five man defensive team. If one guy's not doing his job everyone's going to look bad. So we have to look at the things that are taking energy away from us ... your team spirit goes because you're not doing the right things. We have to correct those things first."
In order to get that spirit back up and play more consistently, Thibodeau's players understand they must do a better job of focusing before games. Many players have acknowledged that the Bulls have no problem getting up for big name opponents and struggle against lesser competition at home.
"I think if we had the answer we'd fix it," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "But in situations like this it's all about the work, man. There's no secret to it. The secret's in the work. We just got to play better -- each individual has to step up and play better and as a team we got to play better. It's weird to have a great road record and an average home record, especially for our team, we've so dominant at home the last few years. But ain't nobody out there going to fix it, we got to fix it ourselves. We will. I'm confident in our group of guys that we'll turn our home record around and make it better."
So is Thibodeau. He believes the Bulls will eventually figure out what the problem is, but his frustration, and that of his team, is starting to grow more palpable by the day. They know they can beat anyone in the league and they know they can lose to anyone in the league and it's driving them crazy.
"Obviously we're disappointed with it," Thibodeau said. "But I don't want us to change how we have to approach each and every day. You can't get caught looking backwards and not focus in on exactly what's in front of you right now which is improvement, being ready to play and understanding how you win. That's where I want our focus to be, on making the necessary steps that we need to make to improve so we can be successful."