There are two constants with coach Tom Thibodeau these days.
He’s “concerned about everything’’ — as he reminds the media often — and he can’t find enough superlatives to describe guard Jimmy Butler.
Despite hitting his first speed bump the previous two games (a combined 4-for-21 from the field against the Wizards and Bucks), Butler still figured out how to make an impact, as evidenced by his 10 assists Saturday against the Bucks.
On Monday, Thibodeau spoke about the Bulls’ version of a “Big Three,’’ which includes Butler.
“We have three primary scorers, Jimmy, Pau [Gasol] and Derrick [Rose],’’ Thibodeau said when asked about Butler seeing more double teams. “When a second defender comes, the responsibility of a primary scorer is to make the right play. Jimmy has been evolving with that. He’s very unselfish. He’s done it all year, and it’s probably the one aspect of his game that has been overlooked by many. He’s a terrific playmaker.
“He does a lot that just helps you win.’’
So how much attention has Butler been drawing from the opposition? Gasol said that was a big reason he scored a career-high 46 points in the victory against the Bucks.
“[Butler is] on everyone’s radar,’’ Thibodeau said. “When you go into a game, you look at a team’s strengths, and you say, ‘This is how we’ll guard Jimmy and Derrick and Pau.’ The responsibility is on those guys to make the right play. He’s starting to get used to different defenses. He knows, ‘OK, if they switch on the pick-and-roll, this is what we’re looking for. If they double-team on the pick-and-roll, this is what we’re looking for. If they double-team the post, this is what we’re looking for. If they overload on isolation, this is what we’re looking for.’ He’s getting comfortable.’’
It isn’t often that Rose has seen a Bull, other than himself, score 40 or more in a game, so while he missed the Gasol show against the Bucks with the sore knee, he still appreciated it.
“Pau’s been great, man,’’ Rose said. “He’s just a great teammate, a great dude. Happy that he’s on this team, makes the game easy. We just have to get used to playing with him a little bit more and make the game easy for him. They found a way to win the game without me, and they played great.’’
The MRI done on forward Mike Dunleavy’s jammed right ankle showed no significant changes, so as long as there are no setbacks, the hope is to have him back in a few days, Thibodeau said.
Dunleavy has missed six games, including the back-to-back losses to the Jazz and Wizards last week.