Taj Gibson knows what’s coming if the rebounding doesn’t improve.
Broomsticks, football pads, bodies flying all over the paint … as the Bulls power forward put it, “old-fashioned rebound drills.’’
That could be one direction Tom Thibodeau goes. But the coach can also take it one step further. As he warned after the Saturday night loss to the Boston Celtics, personnel changes and playing time could both be in play here.
“Any of the above,’’ Thibodeau said, when asked about directions he could go in changing the rebound numbers. “We’re more than capable. It’s hard right now because we’re limited in terms of where we are in the schedule in terms of practice, but it’s a team-wide thing, and I know we’re capable of doing better than we are right now.
“We’re going to have to do something to change it because it’s happening game after game. In order to do something special you have to be a great rebounding team, so that’s something we have to correct.’’
The numbers are glaring.
The Bulls will enter the Monday night game with Detroit, tied for 18th in the league with 41.6 rebounds per game. But it’s the -3.7 differential to their opposition that has Thibodeau concerned.
Last season, the Bulls averaged 44.1 rebounds per game and were a +2.8 in the differential. During the 2012-13 season, a +2.1. The 2011-12 campaign? How about a league-best +6.7? The lesson here? Since Thibodeau took over as the Bulls coach his team has never been in the minus of that differential category.
So why now?
A lot of new faces, a lot of bad bounces, Joakim Noah dealing with a bad left knee, effort, pick an excuse.
“I really don’t know what to say,’’ Gibson said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s just one of those things that we have to lock into in practice. We’ll have to do the old-fashioned rebound drill, but we’ve got to look into it in practice. I don’t think it’s a personnel thing. I think it’s more of just getting after it, getting after it in practice and just getting after it.
“We’re going to go through some [rebounding] woes now, but got to learn from it. You can’t point your finger and say, ‘You’re not doing your job, you’re not doing your job.’ Nah, just learn from it. Guys got to talk about it and move on from it. We got another one coming against another strong team on Monday, and they’re a strong rebounding team. Got to learn from it, get our poise back up, get our swag back up, go right back after it.’’
The Bulls had Sunday off, so if corrections are made they will have to come during the Monday morning shootaround.
But if it happens against the Pistons, expect Tuesday’s scheduled practice to be very interesting.
“It’s an effort thing,’’ guard Jimmy Butler said. “They’re just outhustling us right now. We got to put a body on a man, and I think it starts with everybody. It’s not on the bigs. I think the guards have to get in there and help. It starts with the guards to tell you the truth.’’
If Butler wasn’t pulling his weight, maybe he’d be right. However, his 6.2 rebounds per game is third on the team behind Pau Gasol (10.6) and Noah (10.0), and much better than the career-best 4.9 he had last season.
“Like I said, I’m not sure what it is,’’ Gibson said. “But I know we better figure it out real quick.’’