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Early start time displeases Bulls coach

This news story was published on April 27, 2012.
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By K.C. Johnson and Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune –

For the second straight season, the Bulls are playing the first playoff game despite posting the league’s best record.

“Great,” coach Tom Thibodeau said, defiantly. “They tell you when you’re playing. You just have to be ready. Could be early, could be late, you just have to embrace it. We’re excited.”

Thibodeau said this despite the Bulls going 3-6 in games scheduled either for afternoon or early evening this season. There are two games with noon afternoon tipoffs in this series.

“I don’t know if I agree with that,” Thibodeau said, again defiantly, when asked about their matinee struggles.

After an overtime loss to the Knicks on the afternoon of April 8, Thibodeau said the team’s slow starts in day games “is a big concern.” The Bulls missed 11 of their first 12 shots, committed seven first-quarter turnovers and trailed 27-6 in that game.

“You have to be ready when the ball goes up,” Thibodeau said Friday.

Mixed signals: The Bulls took two of three games from the 76ers during the regular season, losing one without Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton and winning one without Derrick Rose.

“It’s hard to measure regular-season games,” Thibodeau said. “Oftentimes, one team might be in back-to-backs or you have guys out. Our games against them always have been hard-fought, tough battles.”

The Bulls led the league in rebounding but were outrebounded twice by the 76ers, including 43-37 in the loss.

In that game, the Bulls also committed 17 turnovers, which the 76ers converted into 29 points.

“They can definitely run in transition,” Joakim Noah said. “They’re very athletic. We have to take care of the ball.”

Talking the talk: 76ers guard Evan Turner, who played at St. Joseph’s and faced Rose in high school, didn’t back down from his comments that he wanted to face the Bulls in the first round and that the 76ers were “dodging the better team” by not facing the Heat. Turner wondered why his words caused such a commotion because he was trying to point out the 76ers matched up better against the Bulls.

“With all due respect, I wasn’t backing off,” Turner said about addressing his comments the past few days. “I don’t think there was anything said that was crazy. … I was asked my opinion. … I wouldn’t ever disrespect an opponent (or) ever talk trash before a game or anything. The best thing to do to your opponent is compete versus them and try to win. That’s all.”

Turner averaged 4.7 points and 27.3 minutes in three regular-season meetings with the Bulls. He started just one of those games.

Layups: The Bulls won a tiebreaker over the Spurs and will pick 29th in the June 28 NBA draft. … With no shootaround before a noon start, Friday marked the first practice after a back-to-back set of games all season. The team watched film, got up shots and walked through sets. … CSN reported an average viewer increase of 29 percent overall for Bulls games and 57 percent for adults ages 25 to 54. The network’s three highest-rated regular-season games in history were this season.

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