That’s the exact point Thibodeau has hammered home with his team. And that’s why the Bulls, who will in all likelihood get Rose back during the second half of the season, are still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
Not bad for a coach whose only other head coaching position was at Salem State.
Thibodeau served as the Vikings head basketball coach for one year (in 1984) after spending three seasons as an assistant at his alma mater. He then spent four years on the staff at Harvard before beginning his NBA coaching career, which has included stops as an assistant in Minnesota, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York, Houston and Boston.
It was here with the Celtics where he truly started getting widespread recognition for being a defensive mastermind. His work ethic and attention to detail was a critical factor in the Celtics winning the NBA Championship over the favored Los Angeles Lakers in six games in 2008.
Thibodeau’s impressive defensive reputation was either on display again here last night, or the Bulls and Celtics were just looking ahead to the All-Star break. The Bulls held the Celtics to just 11 second-quarter points and followed that by giving up only eight points in the third quarter.
Boston shot just 20 percent combined in the second and third quarters. The Celtics’ 19 total points in those two quarters were their fewest in two consecutive quarters in the shot clock era.
Even though Thibodeau’s Bulls remain a strong defensive team and have played well in Rose’s absence, he knows there’s still a long way to go.
“We really haven’t done anything. Our road is not going to get easier; it’s gonna get a lot tougher,” Thibodeau said.
“We have to come with a greater fight to scratch out wins. We’re shorthanded. We’ve been down multiple starters for a good part of our season, the entire season. So (if) we exhale, relax, we’re in trouble.”