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Bulls vs. Celtics: Doc Rivers praises Chicago defense

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers had some kind words for his former assistant before the Bulls' 100-89 win over Boston on Tuesday night.

Jim Rogash

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers praised his Chicago Bulls counterpart, Tom Thibodeau, just hours before the Bulls' 100-89 win on Tuesday night, ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers writes. A former assistant under Rivers, Thibodeau has turned the Bulls into a defensive juggernaut over his first few years with the organization.

"You think about this year, forget they lost Rose, that's one thing, then they lost a lot of players from last year's team that had a lot to do with why they were winning," Rivers said. "A lot of them were significant role players that their numbers don't show up, but they did a lot of things. And then they bring in a lot of new guys. That's a lot on his plate."

Over the offseason, the Bulls replaced key role players such as Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III with the likes of Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, but the team's defense is still among the best in the league.

With a 14-10 record, the Bulls continue to be legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference despite the absence of Derrick Rose. His return should be especially huge for an offense that's typically struggled to get quality shots with any consistency this season, though the defense has been just fine thanks to Thibodeau's work.