By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - Delonte West broke his gameday ritual.
After warming up without it on, West forgot to wear his sweatband, which he dons every game, for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It just didnt make it, he said.
Turns out the change wasnt so bad after all.
West played his best game of the postseason on Saturday night against the Miami Heat. He scored 10 points (4-5 FG, 2-2 3PG) in just 12 minutes in the first half alone.
Doc Rivers said before the game that the bench had to play better, and West listened. He finished the game with 11 points and 3 assists in 25 minutes.
Its playoff time, West said following the Celtics 97-81 win. Im prepared and Im ready to go.
West was called on to do more than just score when Rajon Rondo went down with a dislocated elbow in the third quarter. Rivers turned to West to run the point. After missing the majority of the regular season with injuries, he was ready to step up.
Thats what they brought me here for, West said. I wanted the opportunity to be able to show this team that I can rise to the challenge.
While West ran the floor as Rondo prepared for an unlikely comeback, he was battling with an injury of his own. After the game he described aggravating his left rotator cuff on a blocked shot attempt. He received a pain shot and returned to the game. While West admits the pain is lingering but said he is alright, Rivers is keeping an eye on his key reserve.
Delonte is a major concern, he said. Shoulder could be worse than what we thought. Well see.
Pain aside, dont expect West to be kept off the court easily. As if seeing Rondo play with one good elbow wasnt motivating enough - When he came back I said Ive definitely got no excuse now, he joked - this is the type of situation he has been waiting for his entire career.
This is what all those days of being the last person on the court, out there with the street lights and you imagine yourself, 3-2-1, he said. Thats what its all about.
After watching LeBron James score 35 points in the Heats Game 2 victory, the Celtics were determined to stop him from taking over Game 3. They buckled down on defense and held him to just 15 points.
Without question we defended LeBron, said Paul Pierce. Anything under 25 points for LeBron, youve defended well. You know the type of talent he is. You know youre used to seeing him go out getting 25, 30 points a night. Thats what you expect from him. So when you can hold him down under that, it gives ourselves a better chance to win.
James shot 3-for-7 in the first half and struggled even more in the second, shooting 3-for-9 from the field.
Said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, No one will be able to do it on their own. Well have collectively be able to trust each other, trust the offense, trust the execution, the ball will have to move against a great defensive team. It didnt in the second half and we paid for it.
While the Celtics' Game 3 victory was critical in this series, neither team is getting too high or too low by the result.
Were just trying to gain some momentum, said Pierce. Its one game, 2-1, so we have another home game and have to take care of home court. Its not going to win the series if we just take care of home court.
Dwyane Wade is looking that bigger picture for the Heat.
Its a series, he said. You dont win in one game - its the first one to four. I thought tonight was our worst game of the playoffs so far . . . Weve had to battle, were a confident team, well move on from in, come back in Game 4.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba