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

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”