- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Doc Rivers understands what a big blow it was for Tom Thibodeau to lose Derrick Rose.
"It would be like not having (Rajon) Rondo," Rivers said after the Celtics' shootaround Monday morning.
That doesn't mean Rivers believes the Bulls have no hope, though. The veteran coach believes that Thibodeau, his good friend and former assistant in Boston, has done a great job preparing the Bulls for life without Rose.
"But they're better at it because they've done it for a while," Rivers said. "Injuries are bad, obviously, but when you have a training camp without the guy you can make a team. I think injuries are far tougher when you have them in the middle of the season and then you've been working a guy out ... it's like (Sunday) night in the Bear game, your starting quarterback goes out it's tough because they haven't had training camp doing that. So it's a little different, but Chicago is playing well."
Why? Rivers knows it's because Thibodeau still preaches defense to his team.
"They play great D," Rivers said. "Nate (Robinson)'s come in and done a terrific job. It's not like the guys they have playing are bad players."
In that regard, Rivers doesn't care what the biggest difference for the Bulls is without Rose on the floor, he just knows that his team is going to be in for a challenge Tuesday night.
"I don't prepare that way," Rivers said of Rose's absence. "I just look at what they are now. Obviously, having Derrick, you're a better basketball team because he creates an offense all on his own for the most part and they don't have that component. They still run the same stuff, but the same thing with any great point guard -- what great point guards do, they run the offense better. But more importantly at the end of a set, or anything, they can create their own offense in transition, off the end of sets, and that's the difference."
Other Doc thoughts:
• Differences in Robinson's game since he left Boston: "I just think he's matured, honestly. I've told Nate this, it's never been his basketball. Nate knows how to play. I think he's grown up, I think he's more of a professional. I think he has better focus. I thought he started doing it last year. I thought last year you could see the difference in Nate, and I'm happy for him. It's not like we don't want players to be good. I'm a fan of Nate's talent, this was good for Nate."
• On Bulls' defensive prowess: "They also use the clock on offense. They shoot the ball with one second on the clock a lot. They have great ball control. It's not like they won't run, they will, but they're going to exhaust the clock until they get the exact shot that they want. And so you can be a running team all you want, but it cuts your possessions in half."
• On Luol Deng's play: "He likes playing against us if you go by the numbers. (Shoot), he's good against us. He's just a good player, a solid, solid basketball player. He's another one of those All-Stars that is a role player, but he's an All-Star. He's just such a team oriented guy. He's a great guy to have on your team."
• On Joakim Noah's improved offensive game: "He's being more aggressive, he's taking people off the dribble a lot. And his IQ is as good as there is in the league. Noah, Kevin Garnett, there's only a handful of bigs, that have great IQ's as far as point guard IQ's and Noah's one of them."
• On the Lakers hiring Mike D'Antoni: "That's good. He's a helluva coach. It's a good fit ... I think it's a terrific fit. I don't know of anyone who can scoff at Mike D'Antonio being the head coach. He's a helluva coach."
13dMatt Walks, ESPN.com