By Jessica Camerato
Justdays ago Delonte West was contemplating his return to basketball after servinga 10-game suspension. Now an injury to Rajon Rondo has presented thepossibility of West returning to the starting lineup.Rondosuffered a strained left hamstring during Fridays loss to the Oklahoma CityThunder. He is listed as day-to-day by team officials for Sundays game in Toronto against the Raptors. Westlooks to be the Celtics next option if Rondo is unable to play, and hell beready if he gets the call. Imvery confident in what Im able to do on the floor, said West. If hes unableto go, Im going to be ready to do what I do best. And that doesnt necessarilymean Im going to be the guy that gets my number called, but at the same time Ijust prepare myself well. If my numbers called Ill be ready to go.
WithRondo sidelined for the majority of the fourth quarter against the Thunder,West came off the bench and was an integral part in the Celtics comebackattempt. He clocked nine minutes and held Russell Westbrook (31 points)scoreless during that time. Ithought defensively Delonte was terrific, said Doc Rivers. I thought he didthe best job of all of our guards, kind of slowing them down. Clearly you wantRondo on the floor all of the time because offensively its tough to run yourstuff when your guy who knows your whole system is not out on the floor. But Idont know how Rondo is. I have no idea. I just knew he wasnt running rightand had to come out.
IfWest gets the nod it would be his first start since April 14, 2010, one of histhree starts for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. He started all 64 gameshe played in during the 2008-09 campaign. West has a career average of 11.8 points,4.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds as a starter.WhileWest does not need to be in the starting lineup to be effective - thats one ofthe biggest benefits to having him in the Celtics second unit - it would helphim find his rhythm.
Westhas played less than 20 minutes in two games for the Celtics since returningfrom his suspension on Tuesday. Even though he says he always feels comfortableon the court (he is averaging 9.5 points, 2.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds), Fridaysloss was not conducive to getting into a flow and felt like game number two tohim. ButWest wont use that as an excuse.
Ifelt great out there, he said. But the way we were playing, not having anyrhythm and going for a few short minutes and I might not touch the ball inthose few minutes, but like I said were pros and theres still no excuses. Youvegot to be ready to go.Andhe will be on Sunday if he gets the call.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba