Rivers believes Thibodeau will merit Coach of the Year consideration


Jan 8

The Bulls’ back-to-back road losses to the Nets and Sixers, both sub-.500 teams, can be attributed in large part to poor efforts on the defensive end of the floor. It’s an area in which the Bulls have excelled for the most part this season, but Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said on Saturday he wasn’t surprised about the lapse.

“I just think it happens,” said Rivers. “They’re a great defensive team and we’re a great defensive team. We’ve given up 118 [points] or whatever in a game and it just happens. You can’t over blow it and it gives us a chance to coach more with film and all that stuff.

“As a coach, you’re more alarmed when you’re losing with your defense and you’re hearing your players say, ‘Man, we’ve got to score more points,’” Rivers continued. “That’s when you know you have an issue.”

Thibodeau served under Rivers the last three seasons as the Associate Head Coach of the Boston Celtics, where the Celtics made two trips to the NBA Finals and won the 2008 NBA Championship.

Thibodeau’s emphasis on defense is well-known, and Rivers even went as far as to share how much he takes defensive lapses to heart.

“I think any guy that wants his team to be a defensive team takes every point personally,” Rivers said. “Eventually, they will get their players to feel that same way, or the key players, and that’s really important.”

Rivers also offered his thoughts on the recent controversy when Carlos Boozer found himself on the bench for the fourth quarter of Chicago’s loss to New Jersey on Wednesday. Following the game, Thibodeau had stated he wanted to play Luol Deng at power forward for matchup purposes and reportedly wasn’t happy with some of Boozer’s defensive efforts earlier in the game.

“Thibs and I talk a lot,” said Rivers. “And the bottom line is that you do what is good for the team. Always. And you’re up front about that. If every decision is what’s good for the team, there’s never a controversy.”

Based on the job he’s done in his first season as a head coach in Chicago, Rivers believes Thibodeau will merit some discussion for Coach of the Year.

“I think Thibs has done an amazing job,” said Rivers. “He’s a first-year coach and he had to adopt a very talented team that had demands, if you know what I mean. That comes with its own set of pressures as well. He was ready for the job; there’s no doubt about that.”

As for Thibodeau’s team, Rivers sees them as a work in progress.

“You can’t evaluate them yet,” said Rivers of the Bulls. “They’re a better team defensively, it’s clear. Thibs has his handprint all over this team. You can see that. But I don’t think you can evaluate them because they haven’t been healthy.

“They are having a hell of a year with the injuries they’ve had,” Rivers added. “Noah being out [now] and Boozer being out at the beginning of the year, that’s a big chunk of their team. And yet, they’re still winning.”

Bulls vs. Celtics season notes

The Bulls trail in the all-time series 111-86 … the two teams split the season series 2-2 last year, with Chicago winning the final two games … over the last three-plus seasons, the Celtics are 10-3 during the regular season against the Bulls … against the Celtics last year, Joakim Noah recorded two double-doubles and averaged 10.5 ppg and 12.5 rpg, while Derrick Rose tallied a career-high 39 points, seven assists and five rebounds in their final contest last season (04/13 at CHI) … last year, Boston outscored Chicago by an average of 100.0 ppg to 91.8 ppg … Boston swept the 2007-08 season series 4-0 for the first time since they went 6-0 against the Bulls during the 1986-87 season … the Bulls are 53-44 versus the Celtics in Chicago and 32-61 in Boston … in four games versus Boston last season, Paul Pierce scored 21.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 3.8 apg in 32.3 mpg … in their final two games last season, the Bulls outscored Boston 98.5 ppg to 88.0 ppg and outrebounded them 49.5 rpg to 39.5 rpg.

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (01.08.11):

Audio—Celtics Coach Doc Rivers’ pregame comments (01.08.11):

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