Surprise! Celtics have a former MVP to deal with tonight

A. Sherrod Blakely

Surprise! Celtics have a former MVP to deal with tonight

MINNEAPOLIS – One of the great things about this Celtics coaching staff is how they have been able to pivot in whatever direction is necessary when an unexpected factor enters the game-preparation equation like, say, an opponent signs a former league MVP whose best years came with the coach of the team he just signed with.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced the signing of Derrick Rose. who spent six of his nine-plus seasons playing for current Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.

In that time, Rose was a three-time All-Star and 2010-11 MVP – accolades he has not accomplished anywhere else.

With that kind of resume and the familiarity with Thibodeau and a number of ex-Bulls on the Timberwolves roster, what impact does that have on Boston’s preparation for tonight?

Not a whole lot, for several reasons.

For starters, it’s not an absolute that Rose will play tonight, although the fact that Rose mentioned in his presser about being given a small package of plays to work with, leads you to believe he’ll be given a starter's kit of plays to go with tonight. 

Even if Rose does play, he won’t play a large chunk of minutes and like most new guys, he’ll likely be looking to feel his new teammates out rather than try and take over and control the game’s flow.

And it’s not like the Celtics have not seen Rose play this season.

In his lone game against Boston this season with the Cavs, Rose had 14 points, four rebounds and two assists.

He was solid, but far from spectacular.

The Celtics are more likely to try and take advantage of his unfamiliarity with his new team, on the defensive end of the floor. It isn’t as much about him knowing or not knowing what the Celtics want to run, as it is how his teammates handle various situations.

Having had one shoot-around which is what Rose went through Thursday morning, isn’t going to be enough.

It is going to be a process, one that the Celtics should take advantage of when the opportunity presents itself – and it will at some point tonight.

While Rose is quite familiar with the Timberwolves system that has some similarities from Thibodeau’s time in Chicago, there are some significant differences in terms of the personnel and how Thibodeau uses them.

And when Thibodeau coached Rose, he was one of the top players in the NBA.

Now, he’s 29 and a role player trying to help a team that’s focused on getting to the playoffs.

It won't be an issue tonight, but it is worth keeping an eye on going forward. 

But with his return, there are still questions about his health, as well as his desire to play the game.

While in Cleveland, Rose once again had his share of injuries and wound up leaving the team in November to reportedly re-evaluate whether he wanted to continue playing the game.

He re-joined the team the following month and reportedly got married during his leave of absence to his longtime girlfriend Alaina Anderson. who recently gave birth to their child.

But it does bring into question how would he handle another physical setback.

Rose feels as though he still has a lot of basketball left in him to play.

The Celtics will get a glimpse of that tonight.



Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Pelicans

And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”