Behind every Sherlock lies a Watson. Lurking in the shadows of a potential MVP can be tough for anyone, though C.J. Watson seems to be making the best out of his back-up role in Chicago. Coming from a Warriors team where he was averaging 27-plus minutes and putting up good numbers, you would think C.J. would be upset about getting significantly less playing time. Not so much. As an integral part of the surging Bulls’ second unit – a bench many regard as the best in the League – he is now playing for a team destined to make a serious splash in the postseason. Last I checked, the Warriors aren’t exactly contenders. We got up with Mr. Watson to discuss playing behind Derrick Rose, his favorite sneakers and Miami’s “Crygate.”
Dime: You guys have won 11 of 13 and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. What do you attribute your recent success to?
C.J. Watson: Coach Thibs is keeping us ready, keeping us on the edge. Everybody’s playing well from the starters to the bench and everyone’s just contributing and just winning games.
Dime: Watching the Heat game on Sunday felt like a postseason matchup. How high was the intensity in Miami on Sunday afternoon?
CW: It was real big. It was probably one of our games that we got up for, especially with us beating them twice before and them being the Heat. Fighting for the second/first seed in the East also made it a real high intensity game and for us to come away with the victory… it was a big win for us.
Dime: How good did it feel to get that season sweep on Miami and move into second place in the Eastern Conference?
CW: It’s real big, because come playoff time, seeding is going to be real big depending on who you play in the first round or second round and on. So for us to get the second seed now, hopefully we can keep it up and try and catch Boston.
Dime: Are you guys worried about Boston?
CW: We’re just worried about ourselves. We’re not really trying to catch anybody, but if it happens it happens. But the way Boston’s playing, probably no one’s going to catch them. We’re just worried about ourselves and hope we keep winning, keep taking care of business and everything else just falls into place.
Dime: What’s your take on that whole crying incident in the Heat locker room after the game?
CW: It’s shocking to hear a coach talking about his players crying, but I guess it is what it is. They’ve been expected to win so much, which is tough, but I don’t know if I’d ever cry. It’s crazy.
Dime: Hornets coach Monty Williams said you guys may be the most complete team in the NBA right now. How much does having a deep bench help you guys win?
CW: I think a lot. Our bench has been playing pretty well from Omer [Asik] to Kyle [Korver] to Ronnie [Brewer] to Taj [Gibson], and even Kurt [Thomas] when Jo [Joakim Noah] was injured. We just try to go out there and pick up the pace and increase or keep the lead. Just trying to give our starters a break and give them a little cushion for the game.
Dime: What’s the locker room environment like right now? Who is the most vocal player in there?
CW: Luol [Deng] is probably the most vocal player in the locker room, though everyone pretty much talks, from [Carlos] Boozer to D-Rose to Jo to Kurt… I mean Scal [Brian Scalabrine] is like our coach on the bench, he makes sure everyone’s in the right play and the right coverages. I mean pretty much everyone’s vocal. We’re a team who – even though we’re very close to each other – can get on each other in hard times and good times, so it’s pretty good to have a team like that.
Dime: How is it playing alongside Derrick Rose?
CW: It’s fun! I’m probably backing up the MVP in the league so… it’s tough in some ways, but it’s also good because he’s one of the best point guards, if not the best point guard, in the game right now. And he’s making my job a lot easier.