By A. Sherrod Blakely
WALTHAM The Boston Celtics were down to just 10 healthy bodies in Wednesday's practice.
Fortunately for them, one of them was Delonte West.
The 6-foot-3 guard participated in his first full contact practice since suffering a broken right (non-shooting) wrist injury on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.
Still, don't expect West to be on the floor any time soon.
"He won't play tomorrow against the Lakers or probably will not play until after the break," said coach Doc Rivers. "But at least he had his first practice. "We told them, 'No reaching,' which is impossible with some of our guys. But other than that, we got through it."
With Paul Pierce not at practice on Thursday because he was under the weather and Marquis Daniels out with a bruised spinal cord injury, West's conditioning was put to the test immediately because the C's didn't really have the ability to substitute players in and out.
"I had to get on out there sooner than I expected, but I definitely surprised myself," West said. "I was able to go full contact. I got in there, scrapped it around with the big guys a little bit."
One of the last players to leave the gym after most practices, conditioning is not going to be an issue for West.
However, his timing is admittedly not where it needs to be which isn't all that surprising when you consider Wednesday was his first contact practice.
"A lot of things working at the same time; re-think the plays and also dealing with this starting five, one of the best defenses in the league. That's the way to welcome you back," West said.
His return can not come soon enough to a Celtics team that has played short-handed all season.
While West's return date is targeted for after the All-star break, he admitted he wouldn't mind getting on the floor sooner.
"If it was up to me, I'm confident in playing tomorrow against the Lakers," West said.
West expressed that confidence to Rivers as well as Ed Lacerte, the C's head trainer.
They weren't as convinced.
And if you listen to West, it's clear that he's not totally sold on the idea that he can come back and make the kind of impact that the C's will need in order to win.
"My timing was off; familiarity with the plays wasn't 100 percent," West said. "I guess in a game like tomorrow, we need 'for-sures' out there."