CHICAGO -- A clean-cut and noticeably slimmed down Carlos Boozer smiled Wednesday when asked if he had lost weight.
"Just a little bit," he said at Berto Center.
Regardless, the veteran forward remains hungry to succeed.
Reiterating comments he made in last week's Chicago Tribune, Boozer vowed to play better individually and help the Bulls supplant the Heat as Eastern Conference champions.
"With the group we had, we were in every game and had chances to win those games," Boozer said. "Do I believe we can beat them with this group? Yeah, I do. Do I think management will do everything to make us the best team possible? Yeah, that's what they do. They have put great pieces on this team.
"We've grown. But (the Heat have) grown too from their experiences and losses. That's history. All we can do is take what we learned from that series and the playoffs in general and use the failure to grow."
Boozer revealed an intriguing tidbit, saying executive John Paxson talked to the team before the lockout started about the Bulls' struggles with the Pistons in the late 1980s and early '90s.
"Pax talked to us about all those wars before they broke through to beat the Lakers (for the first championship in 1991)," Boozer said. "That's how you grow. You go through defeats, learn from your mistakes, let those mistakes motivate you, do what you do well better and get better at your shortcomings."
Fully recovered from the turf toe that limited him in last season's playoffs, Boozer wouldn't reveal his weight. But by appearance, he supported whispers from South Florida that he has been working out intensely and effectively in Miami since his injury healed.
"I want to win," Boozer said. "We came close and were good but not good enough. That is motivating all of us."
As for his personal motivation, Boozer chuckled when asked about his comment to the Tribune that he looks forward to "quieting the haters."
"That's more a younger generation term so don't worry about it too much," he said, laughing. "Some people take criticism the wrong way. I take it as motivation.
"I want to play better (defense), be more efficient offensively, be a better leader and teammate and do whatever it takes for our team to win."
Boozer admitted the compressed, 66-game schedule will be a grind for all teams but that returning the core from a Bulls squad that won a league-high 62 games should benefit them.
"We're all pretty familiar with (coach Tom Thibodeau's) system," Boozer said. "Going into a shortened season, especially with the long break we had, teams that have more familiarity with their system will have a head start.
"Let's go. It's pretty much all games. It's going to be a fast-paced season. We're going to have to learn and grow during games. That's going to be a challenge for every team. But we're looking forward to it."