Chicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau's Playoff Performance Has Been Disappointing

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIMay 25, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18:  Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls reacts against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nobody can deny that Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau did a great job this season and deserved his Coach of the Year award, but is the same guy still coaching the Bulls in the playoffs?

Unfortunately, probably yes.

He has a very structured way of doing things and doesn't like to deviate from them, and that worked for 62 wins during the regular season.

Because he so strongly believes in his system, he seems very reluctant to change, even when it should seem obvious that something needs to be done.

Despite reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls have not played well the entire postseason.

Indiana might have drawn up the blue-print on how to stop Derrick Rose, and now the Heat, with their superior athletic talent, are taking it to the next level.

While it's hard to question a coach who achieved what Thibodeau did in his first year, you can question if he is still going through growing pains.

During the season, he was intent on the Bulls ending up with the best record in the league and home court advantage once that possibility became apparent. To achieve that, he pushed his players, including Rose and Luol Deng, and the Bulls now appear to be paying the price.

The Bulls heralded "bench mob" has been a disappointment in this series, while Miami's has come through big for them.  

Kyle Korver, who was brought in to spread the court, was badly outplayed by Mike Miller Tuesday night. Miller was probably the main reason that the Heat won the game as he scored nine points in the fourth quarter, and also ended up with nine rebounds, while Korver ended up with five points and missed some open shots for the Bulls.

Udonis Haslem impacted Game 2 for Miami, coming back from an injury to help lead the Heat to victory.

You can ask why Thibodeau has kept Korver on the court as much as he has when he has been a defensive liability. If he can't hit shots, he can't be on the court.

And speaking of that, Kurt Thomas can't get on the court because Thibodeau seems reluctant to play him against Miami. After Omer Asik re-injured himself in the game, you would think that Thomas would get some playing time, and give Joakim Noah some needed rest.

The commentators on the TNT broadcast mentioned how winded Noah appeared to be, yet he was on the court for almost 45 minutes, while Rose played over 48, Deng over 43 and Carlos Boozer over 49. 

Thomas could have provided what the other Bulls' centers couldn't—some outside shooting. He played well when he got a chance during the season, and he did last year in the playoffs for the Milwaukee Bucks when Andrew Bogut went down with an injury.

Miami plays defense as well as the Bulls do, and they seem to know what the Bulls are going to do before they do it. It's easy to understand because they always do the same thing.

They are constantly doubling Rose, and not allowing him to drive the lane and either finish at the basket or dish off to open teammates.

Thibodeau has created a stifling defense, but has not shown any offensive innovation since the playoffs began and teams started to figure out the Bulls.

Down 3-1, it's unlikely the Bulls can come back to win this series no matter what Thibodeau does.

He's considered stubborn to a fault, and that stubbornness is now hurting the team.  

I can understand believing in what you do, and what he has done has proven successful, but even the best plans don't always work out.

A seven game playoff series is about adjustments, usually from one game to the next. One coach makes a move and then the other one counters.

A good coach adjusts—something he has been reluctant to do in the playoffs—and hardly at all against Miami.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Hopefully you can teach a rookie head coach some new ones. If not this year, at least in the future.