Whether it was the overblown, possibly misquoted Derrick Rose comments about steroids running rampant in the NBA or Joakim Noah using a homophobic slur while exchanging words with a Heat fan on the bench during Game 3, off-court dealings have certainly tried to play a part in the Bulls' preparation for Tuesday night's game.
Fortunately Tom Thibodeau, the all-knowing and always-thinking head coach of the Bulls, has developed a solution to quelling any fears people have that Chicago might be distracted while trying to tie the series: he's told his players not to think about the off-court issues and instead focus on the task at hand.
"That's been the whole year -- he always wants us to stay focused on our job and our job is to come in here and try to get better every day," Rose told the Chicago Tribune. "Off-court distractions, I know I couldn't care less about what's going on, especially now when we're down in the series. Our biggest deal is to come out here and play hard tonight."
Thibodeau also shared some of that insight with the rest of the team, including back-up power forward Taj Gibson.
"(Thibodeau) just tells us don't listen to that, don't feed into that," Gibson told the Tribune. "Don't feed into all the stuff that's being said. He said just remember when you won Game 1, how everyone was saying you're the best, you're going to do good. And now what they're saying. So just stay focused on the task at hand, stay focused on yourself and your teammates. Just walk through fire.
"You hear it all the time, but you have to shut everything out, turn your phone off and stay away from the negativity."
If the Bulls are able to put this week's distractions behind them, there's a good a chance they can return to Chicago on Thursday with the series tied.