C's expecting Rose will play

BOSTON -- After Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose participated fully in Wednesday's practice, absorbing on-court contact for the first time since suffering a groin injury on March 12, the Boston Celtics seem to expect him on the floor for Thursday's Eastern Conference battle at the United Center.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said the team would wait to see how Rose responds on Thursday, but Paul Pierce wasn't waiting for a medical update and thinks Rose will only make Chicago that much more dangerous.

"[The Bulls] are tough at home, they are the NBA’s best team, record-wise," Pierce said of the 42-13 Bulls, who are 21-6 at home this season. "You gotta expect Derrick Rose to probably be back. We understand the challenge that’s ahead of us. We understand that [Wednesday's loss to San Antonio] was a big blow to [the Celtics, snapping a five-game win streak], but we just have to be ready -- mentally and physically -- to come into Chicago and try to get a win."

The Celtics have struggled with second nights of back-to-backs this season (7-8 overall), particularly those that close on the road (2-8). Back in February, the Celtics lost the first night of a back-to-back against Detroit at TD Garden, then fell to the Bulls on a Thursday primetime game.

Kevin Garnett, an outspoken critic of this year's condensed schedule, isn't thrilled with another daunting back-to-back. Asked about Thursday's game in Chicago, he said: "Doesn’t get any easier; Thank you, [commissioner David] Stern, thank you [executive director of the National Basketball Players Association] Billy [Hunter].”