West a different, but effective, point guard

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West a different, but effective, point guard

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MINNEAPOLIS The absence of Rajon Rondo (right pinkie finger) for the Boston Celtics is hard to ignore.

But Delonte West certainly makes it more palatable with his all-around game, which was instrumental in the Celtics' 85-82 win at Minnesota on Sunday.

West, making his first start of the season, had eight points and five assists.

He also grabbed three rebounds, the last of which was an offensive board that was arguably the biggest play of the game.

Clinging to a three-point lead with just under 28 seconds to play, West's rebound ultimately led to a pair of Paul Pierce free throws that sealed the victory.

"He brings energy and you feed off that," Pierce said. "As you saw late in the game, he got the offensive rebound, which was huge. It's good to have him out there."

West may be in the starting lineup Monday night when the Celtics play at Indiana.

Coach Doc Rivers said no decision has been made on whether Rondo will play against the Pacers.

If he can't go, the C's are more than comfortable with West running the first team.

He and Rondo have very different games, which became quite evident in the game's first couple of minutes on Sunday.

With West at the point, he opened the game by nailing a pair of jumpers - something you don't see too often out of Rondo.

Those shots seemed to establish the C's tempo.

"He was terrific," Rivers said of West. "He set the tone for us. He's so tough. Delonte, again, I don't know how you describe his game. I couldn't tell you what he does great. He's a hell of a player to have on your basketball team because he's going to help you win a game."

Injuries, and a suspension on an offseason gun charge at the start of the season, have limited West to appearing in just 15 games this year.

But that doesn't mean he can't make an impact.

In fact, that's the one thing that West is pretty consistent with doing.

"All the little things that you don't see in the boxscore, Delonte really does," Pierce said. "I'm glad he's back to full strength."

His timing could not be better as Rondo remains questionable for Mondays game because of his pinkie finger injury.

But as much as West helps the Celtics because of his talent, his competitive drive is even more valuable.

"His ability to compete, is higher than I've been around for a while," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. "It's higher than anybody I've been around for a while."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.

Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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