GMs pick Pacers in Central, Thibs unfazed

DEERFIELD -- It should come as no surprise that Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t paying attention to any preseason predictions. including one that has some general managers across the league picking the Indiana Pacers to win the Central Division.

“Whether it's praise or criticism it really doesn’t matter,” Thibodeau said after practice Tuesday morning. “It only matters what we think. If they picked us to win it, would it mean any more? No. To me it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t care about that stuff.”

But sometimes players do care. Whether its an individual or team prediction, a player can hear the doubts and use that to his advantage or it could be a detriment.

“If you have the right type of guys they’re going to get ready every day,” Thibodeau explained. “That’s what you have to focus in on. If you’re thinking about that stuff, then you’re not thinking about the stuff that is important. And it takes you away from doing things to the best of your ability so I don’t want them getting caught up in that stuff because it doesn’t mean anything.”

Preseason winding down

Thibodeau says he’ll play his regular lineup when the Bulls host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night. After that contest just one game remains in the preseason before the games have real meaning starting on Oct. 31

“We want to continue to improve,” Thibodeau said. “Each day get better. Build the right habits and do the right things. And the rest will take care of itself.”

That’s been Thibodeau’s mantra since training camp began. It takes on extra meaning as the Bulls continue to prepare for life without star Derrick Rose.

“We’ve been coming together the last couple games,” Taj Gibson stated. “Guys have been finding their rhythm. We’ve been putting a lot of work in at practice on offense. It’s all about getting it started the right way. We understand the season is a week and some change away so guys are focusing even harder now.”

The Bulls conclude the exhibition season on Friday in South Bend against the Pacers.