When discussing the NBA's condensed schedule, coach Tom Thibodeau compared this experience to the 1999 lockout, which featured a 50-game schedule and a season that didn't begin until February.
"My experience in 1999 sort of helped me with this," Thibodeau said. "I anticipated what it's going to be like. It's very similar. The big thing is you have to be healthy. You knew the practices would be minimized. You're also concerned about the lack of rest. Those were the two main things."
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Now that he mentioned it, Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the New York Knicks in '99, a team that went from the No. 8 playoff seed in the East to the NBA Finals before losing to San Antonio.
So he actually mastered the lockout-shortened season the first time around.
"I don't know if we mastered it," he said. "Back in '99, we were really a much higher seed than an 8 seed. That's what can happen. We had taken on a couple of injuries early and we finally got healthy in the last 10 games of the season.
"We were fortunate. We were playing well and we were healthy."
Passing the buck:
The Bulls have shown a remarkable talent for sharing lately.
Not only do they lead the NBA in assists, but six different players have recorded double-figure assist games: Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton, C.J. Watson, Mike James and, most-recently, center Joakim Noah on Wednesday night.
"I like the way we're playing offensively, in terms of our unselfishness," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The ball's moving freely. I think overall, we're making quick decisions.
"You can always do better, we know that. But the unselfishness is very good. I think guys are conscious of making the extra pass and hitting the open man."
View from Miami:
On the eve of the all-star break, Miami's LeBron James talked about the Bulls and whether the second half is shaping up as a two-team race for first place in the Eastern Conference.
"I look at that team as one of the best that we have in the NBA," James told reporters in Miami. "Coach Thibs, of course, they've got the reigning MVP and those guys all buy into the system. They've got a great defense and they've got a great team.
"Every night you know what you get out of the Chicago Bulls. They play hard. For us, we're tying to do the same. We're trying to go out and play hard both defensively and execute offensively and see what happens after that."
TV ratings soar:
Comcast SportsNet announced that television ratings for Bulls broadcasts are up 45 percent from last season. According to the network, 10 Bulls games have averaged a 6.0 household rating, something that happened just once last year.