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.