Pau Gasol and his Bulls teammates ready themselves for a more physical game

SHARE Pau Gasol and his Bulls teammates ready themselves for a more physical game

Tom Thibodeau expects that the counterpunch is coming tonight in Game 2.

How and at who? There’s the wait-and-see.

After beating Milwaukee 103-91 Saturday night at the United Center, and outrebounding the Bucks 52-41, to a man the Bulls are expecting a more physical game from the visiting team.

“Yeah, that’s sort of the nature of … when you play a team over and over again that’s usually what happens, yeah,’’ Thibodeau said, when asked about the physicality picking up.

It doesn’t mean Milwaukee will be coming in to dirty-up the game, but for a team that was built on defense and rebounding, losing in each of those departments just can’t sit well.

“You know as the series goes on and teams get a little bit more desperate, they’re going to do whatever they can to win, and the physicality might go up for sure,’’ Pau Gasol said. “Playoffs are about physicality and intensity, and that’s going to be a lot more. Just got to match, make sure you’re aggressive, but at the same time protect yourself and play through it.’’

Once again, the Bulls will be as healthy as they have all season long, only down Kirk Hinrich, who continued trying to rehab that left hyperextended knee.

According to Thibodeau, the veteran guard rode the bike during the morning shootaround, did some shooting and running, but still wasn’t ready.

That means a nine-man rotation once again, with Tony Snell likely that last guy off the bench.

As far as how the Bucks will look to handle the backcourt of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler after the duo combined for 48 points on 17-for-30 shooting, expect less doubling of Pau Gasol and more roadblocks in Bulls guards getting easy lanes to the basket.

“When you have three primary scorers like we do, we can go a different way,’’ Thibodeau said of the adjustments likely coming his way. “All three of those guys [Butler, Rose and Gasol] have the responsibility of when the second defender comes, hit the open man. Make the right play. Make the winning play.

“We’re fortunate we have three guys willing to do that. Every game, you’re making sure you’re making winning plays and playing to win and playing together. You’re trying to play to each other’s strengths. The challenge is not only bringing the best out of yourself but your teammates as well. That’s how you become a great team. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport.’’

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