West a different, but effective, point guard


West a different, but effective, point guard

By A.Sherrod Blakely

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat


WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?


Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.