"I always say we pay everybody on the team. We don't pay two or three guys and everybody else plays for free. Everybody makes a contract and you should show up to play. Thibs, this year, it's been amazing what they're doing. But last year was amazing. He took that team to the second round. So it's just what he does."
Rivers said he and Thibodeau still speak all the time and continue to give each other advice.
"We talk a lot about basketball and we always will, so that will never change," Rivers said. "We bounce things off each other a lot and in some ways it does help being in different conferences because now we can actually talk real basketball strategy at times too, so it's been a lot of fun."
The two have had a strong relationship for years, dating to Thibodeau's days as an assistant on Rivers' staff in Boston. They have always been supportive of each other, both publicly and privately, and that continued Friday.
"I think every year's his best coaching job, honestly," Rivers said. "Last year he went through it, the year before, every year people keep expecting them to fall and they don't, and the guy that's standing there is Tom Thibodeau. He's the guy. He's the difference. He holds them together somehow.
"Obviously, they make trades. They trade Deng away and yet they keep winning. So the guy that's standing there every day is Tom. I just think it's been impressive what he's done, not just this year, I thought last year was just as hard, and some ways harder, because you kept thinking Derrick may come back. So you just got to take your hat off to him."
Thibodeau did reveal some good news for his team Friday, noting that veteran power forward Carlos Boozer will be able to play against the Clippers after sitting out Wednesday's game in Cleveland because of a left calf strain.
No matter who may be on the floor, Rivers knows that the Bulls will give their best under Thibodeau.
"It's his system, but it's more of his way," Rivers said. "He just doesn't relent. He doesn't believe that if a guy gets injured, even a guy like Rose, that the team should go away. I think he instills that in his players -- and he has some pretty good players that believe that.
"I mean, [Joakim] Noah is the other guy to me that stands out on their team. They have a lot of like-minded players to Thibs. Noah is that way, [Kirk] Hinrich is absolutely that way. [Taj] Gibson is becoming that way, and I think it's all because they've been around Tom."