Kevin Garnett: No. 1 seed matters
Contrary to popular belief, Garnett believes playoff seeding is important, even for a veteran team like the Celtics.
"But to be honest with you, everybody wants to be No. 1. Wherever we're at is going to be wherever we're at. Whether we're at one or two [seed], we're still going to have to play and still going to have to deal with some type of adversity or something."
Garnett's Celtics trail the Bulls by three games heading into Thursday night's showdown between the two teams. The former league MVP has been impressed with the play of Bulls point guard, and MVP favorite, Derrick Rose all season.
"Oh my god, Derrick Rose has taken probably 100 notches of a takeoff from where he started," Garnett said. "Nothing has shocked me about anything he's obtained. And the fact that he's taken his team, put it on his back, his progression, the sense that he's still humble to it all, the fact that he's taken his team to the next level. Tom [Thibodeau] putting the guys around him, some quality guys, a good combination of not just good, but older vets, and some younger players around him.
"A great assembly to the team he's put together, and he's just letting them guys play. They look like they play really free-minded. And knowing Thibs and knowing how he is, I didn't expect anything less than what he's done. So yeah, I'm happy for Derrick, too. He's one of my favorite guys to sit back and watch. A beast to play against. But [he's] one of my favorite guys [in] how he approaches the game."
Garnett isn't surprised by the success that Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant, has had in his first year as Bulls head coach.
Bulls vs. Celtics
Which team has more at stake in Thursday's game?
"I think one thing Tom and I share is our passion for the game," he said. "Our passion for defense. Our passion for the detail of the game. The minute I knew he was going to be not a good head coach, but a great head coach, was the minute I walked in, and we just hit it off. I think the chemistry from day one with me and Tom has always been very high quality and [we're] very appreciative in a lot of respects for one another."
Thibodeau said it didn't take long for Garnett to make an impression on him.
"At my first practice with him, I knew. I knew how serious he was," Thibodeau said. "When you sit on the opposing bench, you have thoughts about different players, and of course, you could see his greatness by what he did over his career. But until you see that fire and that will to win, and how selfless he is, and how hard he practices.
"That guy is all about the team, and he's all about winning and that was a big part of the championship in  and of course, them being at a high level for a long time. The way that guy approaches things, you can't say enough about him."
With Thibodeau at the helm, Garnett can see a lot of similarities between the Celtics and the Bulls.
"When we first got assembled we had to go through a little duration of where we were, and then hitting the stride that was unspeakable," he said. "It's very [similar] from the time we got together [to] what they're doing now. I'm happy for Tom and his team."
Garnett admitted he is looking forward to the possibility of facing the Bulls in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"I look forward to [it] not only because they're the young up-and-coming team, but they're trying to establish something here," he said. "We're trying to establish something. The competition is what fuels me at the end of the day, so it's cool."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.