West gives Celtics just what they need, just in time


West gives Celtics just what they need, just in time

By A. Sherrod Blakely

NEW YORK As Delonte West's teammates made their way outside of the team's locker room following Saturday's 89-85 win over New Orleans, West took his time in getting dressed.


In many ways, it describes the basketball journey that has brought the 6-foot-3 guard back to Boston for a second tour of duty.

It is also an apt description of his game, one that the Celtics have desperately not seen enough of this season.

A 10-game suspension and multiple injuries have limited West to just 11 games this season.

But he's back in the mix, right on time as the Celtics try to finish the regular season with momentum heading into the playoffs.

His steady approach to the game should help a team that's in need of some consistency.

In addition, West also provides some much-needed toughness.

"I've been in the trenches. I've played against all these guys," West said. "I'm not nervous or anything out there."

Said coach Doc Rivers: "That's why Delonte West is so important for us."

It is that toughness, that dogged approach to the game, that has made West a fan favorite of the Celtics and a player that the C's core group know they can count on in a pinch.

"All grit" and "not giving up" were the words of choice used by Kevin Garnett in describing West.

His return not only makes the Celtics a deeper team, but also gives Rondo a back-up who is well versed in the Celtics system. In addition to West, the Celtics also have Carlos Arroyo, who was signed earlier this month after being waived by the Miami Heat.

"With D-West back and picking up Carlos, that's been big for me," said Rondo, who left Saturday's game briefly after re-aggravating a right pinkie injury. "Trying to get me as healthy as possible for a playoff push."

West is also looking forward to the postseason, one in which he will be counted on to contribute in a variety of ways.

Being a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none has been West's game since he has been in the league.

It's a role that he's more than happy to embrace.

"I enjoy playing the game of basketball," he said. "There's a game within the game. My time in Cleveland, coming off the bench, gave me an opportunity to sit and watch. Me being a high energy player . . . playing in 3-, 4-minute spurts, that's perfect for me. I come in, I can hand that off to somebody or change the tempo. That's what I do."

Paul Pierce has strung together his two worst back-to-back shooting performances of the season. After going 2-for-10 in a loss at Houston, Pierce was even colder the following night, going 1-for-9 in a win over New Orleans.

"The crazy thing," Pierce said. "Friday's loss at Houston I didn't have a rhythm. Against New Orleans, I had a good rhythm. All my shots felt good. I just missed them.

"That's something I'm not even worried about, truthfully. I'm just going to brush this off. I'm just glad we got the win."

He wasn't the only All-Star on the floor struggling.

New Orleans top player, Chris Paul, missed all nine of his shots from the field against the Celtics.

"If your name was Paul, you struggled shooting the ball," said Rivers.

For the first time this season, the Celtics went with a playoff-like rotation. It included the starting five of the Big Three, Rondo and Nenad Krstic, along with Glen Davis, Jeff Green and Delonte West off the bench.

"I have been stubborn, trying to force rest with our guys," Rivers said. "I told them, 'We're not going to go with a full rotation. We're going to shorten the rotation and make sure the bench is not in with five bench guys. It's gotta be one or two starters in together.' "

Rivers liked what he saw, but don't get too used to it.

"It was a one-game thing," Rivers said. "I'll do it here and there because I want to see more of a playoff rotation. But I'm not going to do that every often."

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

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are far from being healthy heading into tonight’s must-win Game 5, but they will have all of their players available with the exception of Isaiah Thomas (hip).

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown (right hip) was questionable heading into tonight’s game, but he told CSNNE.com earlier that he was planning to give it a go tonight.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens confirmed later on that the 6-foot-7 rookie would in fact play tonight.

His presence tonight is one of the many keys to Boston’s efforts to keep their season alive.

They trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, with a loss tonight ending their season and with that, sending the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Boston’s Amir Johnson (right shoulder) did not play in Game 4, but will be in uniform and available to play tonight. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 veteran was healthy enough to play in Game 4 but Stevens elected to keep him out of the game because he wanted Johnson to have more than one day to rest his shoulder before potentially playing him again.

In other injury-related news, Stevens confirmed comments made earlier in the day by Danny Ainge regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs after the injury proved to be too much for him to play through at halftime of Boston’s Game 2 loss.

Speaking during 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge said there was “a lot” of inflammation around the affected joint on Thomas’ right hip.

“It had gotten worse from the MRI’s he had before,” said Ainge who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”

Said Stevens: “It sounds to me like the course of action right now … is let the inflammation go down a little bit.”

Ainge said earlier that because of the inflammation, it will likely be at least a couple weeks before Thomas and the Celtics will know if he will require surgery or whether another form of treatment will be needed.

Because of that uncertainty, Ainge stressed that Thomas would not return to play in this series even if it were closer.

“No. No way. He’s done (for the season),” Ainge said.