CLEVELAND -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is expected to be voted as the NBA's Most Valuable Player at season's end, but he is hoping his first year head coach, Tom Thibodeau, picks up some hardware of his own in the near future.
With the win, the team's 59th of the season, the Bulls clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, an achievement Rose believes wouldn't have been possible without Thibodeau at the helm.
"I think we took everybody by surprise, just from us winning games," Rose said.
"The way that we're playing, under Thibs' system, it's all because of him. He gives us the opportunity to go out there and play. I think that we're well coached, but we can always get better."
Rose said he knew soon after talking to Thibodeau that the Bulls were on the right track. The career assistant was only interested in bringing in players who wanted to win a championship.
"We knew the guys that we were getting were guys that wanted to win," Rose said. "I always tell people, they don't care about their stats or anything, they just want to win games. And it's hard to be on a team like that, especially in the NBA when people have got their own agenda, and people have got things going on. But we're a very close team, where if we go out anywhere to eat there's at least five or six of us out eating, always calling each other, texting each other, [BlackBerry Messaging] each other. We're kind of close on this team."
Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer agreed with Rose's assessment.
"You give credit to coach Thibs," he said of the team's success and high confidence level. "We came in this summer, guys were in the gym early this summer. I'm talking about all of us, we had almost the whole team at the Berto Center working out. We were getting drills done, trying to get a head start, so to speak. I think he implemented his system in so early, we already had great guys, so we had great chemistry already. When you've got great guys, and you've got great talent, with a great coaching staff. Everything kind of falls into place if everybody's healthy. And it worked out."
This season's Bulls have more things to achieve, but Rose is looking forward to the future with his new coach.
"In the beginning of the season, I always told people that I think that we were going to be ready to play," Rose said. "And that's what we just showed this year. We're just trying to keep playing. Trying to stay humble, stay positive, and just try to keep this thing going. Our fans have been great, traveling with us everywhere. Just bringing Chicago back."
Unlike the past two years, the Bulls are now a favorite to reach the NBA Finals. While he knows it will be an adjustment, Rose is confident that Thibodeau will get he and his teammates to where they want to go.
"We will have to see," he said of the adjustment that comes with being the number one seed. "I know it's going to definitely be different because everyone's going to be expecting us to win, but I think that Thibs will have us ready for it."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.