CHICAGO – Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is rarely at peace when it comes to coaching his teams.
But there’s one aspect of his team that Thibodeau feels completely confident in – his power forwards.
“I feel really good about that position every night,” Thibodeau said after the Wolves’ 119-94 win over the Bulls.
Whether Taj Gibson or Dario Saric is on the floor, it doesn’t much matter to Thibodeau who has complete confidence in either player when they’re out there.
“Taj is playing unbelievable, and so is Dario,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the beauty of it. … and they’re each others’ best cheerleaders.”
It could have been an awkward situation when the Wolves traded for Saric as part of the Jimmy Butler trade in November. Both players may sacrifice minutes here and there on a given night. Since the trade, Gibson is averaging 23.7 minutes per game, Saric 24.1. But neither seems to mind.
“Dario, he's a starter,” said Gibson, who is the actual starter. “Just because he doesn't start and comes off the bench, sometimes he finishes the game and sometimes I want him to finish the games because he's that talented. We have so many different options and sometimes we just have to figure out where to go.”
Against the Bulls, Gibson had 16 points on an efficient 6 of 9 shooting while Saric was 4 of 9 for 12 points. Saric also had a key 3-poitner later in the Wolves’ win over Oklahoma City on Sunday before Andrew Wiggins hit the game winner.
“[Taj] helped me a lot, all other guys helped me a lot to really adjust,” Saric said. “Really tried to be supportive. If I had a bad game or the bad part of the game he would come to me, say some positive things and that’s what’s pushing me forward and he’s there for me.”
Given that both have different skill sets – Saric is more of a stretch “four” while Gibson does most of his work in the post, they can provide an interesting dichotomy for opponents to defend.
“Sometimes we do the same things,” Saric said. “Sometimes we’re totally different and it’s harder for other teams.”
Gibson said he sees some of his younger self in Saric.
“He's such a great talent and has a great motor and great energy,” Gibson said. “He doesn't pout. He's always smiling. That's the same way I was. I never pouted. I loved my teammates. When he's in the game I'm probably his biggest fan to be honest.”
And they both have fans in Thibodeau.