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This was supposed to be Delonte West ‘s season of redemption. Instead, it’s been a season of frustration.
If anybody on this Celtics team could turn to excuses, it’s West, whose series of injuries this year has kept him from assuming the role everybody knew he was capable of fulfilling when healthy. He grew up balling on the playgrounds in the Greater Washington D.C. area, developing a toughness that has prepared him to take (and make) big shots in big moments, frustrate superstars like Dwyane Wade  defensively and, of course, battle injury.
And now that West has finally found his groove — scoring at least 10 points in all four games against the Heat — it might be too late. Still, trailing 3-1 and heading back to Miami for Game 5, West isn’t playing the blame game.
“It’s win or go home,” West said after the 98-90 Game 4 defeat. “You gotta bring it. Everybody’s gotta bring it, or we might as well just get some seats down at the beach and stay down there. But that’s not our plan.”
West could’ve made excuses when he was suspended for the first 10 games of the season on weapons charges, but instead he took it as a learning experience. He could’ve made excuses when he broke his right wrist five games after returning from suspension. Or when he chipped a bone in his right ankle three games after returning from wrist surgery. Or when he injured his shooting shoulder in Game 3 of these Eastern Conference semifinals. But he didn’t.
“It’s doing a lot better,” he said. “I had it taped up. They put some type of compression sleeve on it. It feels a lot better than [Sunday] and definitely better than when I hurt it the prior game. I ain’t got no excuses over here.”
Only playing more than 25 minutes twice in the regular season, West has exceeded that contribution in three of the four games in the Heat series. He contributed 29:51 in Game 4 on what he described as a bruised left rotator cuff, making 4-of-7 shots for 10 points — including a ballsy 3-pointer that snapped a 2:46 scoreless drought and tied the game at 81-81 with three minutes remaining.
“I think Delonte played great,” said Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett . “I thought he was aggressive. I thought he played with a lot of energy. Offensively, I thought he got some good looks. He made some buckets for us, and we’re going to need that.”
After such a frustrating season, West recognizes the necessity of his contribution now more than ever.
“That’s about being a team player, keeping yourself prepared,” said West. “I definitely do. A team like this with so much talent, you gotta engulf yourself in the team. It’s about the team here. If you get 10 shots tonight and two shots the next night, you gotta still be the same guy.” No excuses.
KEVIN GARNETT’S BLOG: ‘WE DIDN’T FINISH STRONG’
In his latest Anta blog entry , Garnett was once again understandably short and not-so-sweet, especially after scoring just seven points on 1-of-10 shooting and getting vastly outplayed by Chris Bosh . Here’s the entire blog …
We didn’t finish strong. Lost and now am down 3-1. Guys battled, but mental errors. Had to have that one. Now we gotta have the rest of these. Heading to Miami in the a.m. Tough loss. Real tough loss.
Gotta win three now. All the pressure is on now.
JASON TERRY : RONDO ‘MUST BE MADE OF RUBBER BANDS’
Mavericks guard Jason Terry, who had a pretty heroic performance himself in Game 4 of his team’s Western Conference semifinals sweep of the Lakers, praised Rajon Rondo  for the toughness the point guard showed in returning from a dislocated elbow in Game 3. Terry told SI.com , “I haven’t seen any time where a guy’s arm looks like it just disappeared. He must be made of rubber bands because he bounced back.”
With a heavy wrap on his left elbow, Rondo played 38 minutes in Game 4, totaling 10 points and five assists.
In the latest edition of Sports Illustrated , Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussed LeBron James at length. Here are his quotes in the story, which comes on the heels LBJ’s 35-point performance that featured just three assists …
- “Once he becomes great at that part of the game [back-to-the-basket], it’s going to become tough for everybody. He’s still good at it, but he’s going to be great at it at some point, and then, Wow.“
- “He’s the best passing guard at his size since Magic. He throws more crosscourt no-look passes than anybody, because of his hang time and his strength.”
- “Even though he led the league in scoring, I still thought LeBron’s points didn’t scare us in Cleveland. It was LeBron’s playmaking that always scared us. We got a kick out of it when people started talking about all the points he was scoring. We were like, That’s cool by us. What we don’t want is to see him get those points and get all the playmaking points as well.”
KENDRICK PERKINS : ‘WHAT HAPPENED IN THE BOSTON GAME?’
Hate the trade or not, you’ve gotta love Kendrick Perkins. After fouling out with four points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes of the Thunder’s 133-123 triple-overtime series-tying Game 4 victory, Perkins’ first words  to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix were, “What happened in the Boston game?”
And, as I tweeted, for anybody bemoaning the Perkins trade after Game 4, simply take a look at Jeff Green‘s performance with James on the floor  this series. When Green and James have been on the floor at the same time, the Celtics have averaged 10.9 more points than the Heat per 36 minutes over the course of four games.
Also, here are the conference semifinals numbers for Jermaine O’Neal  and Perkins per 36 minutes of action:
- O’Neal: 10.9 points, 8.1 rebounds (3.2 offensive) and 1.6 blocks
- Perkins: 4.0 points, 9.1 rebounds (3.7 offensive) and 0.3 blocks
Considering the Celtics’ defensive efficiency is nearly identical this postseason  (99.3) to what it was last postseason  (99.7), while the Thunder’s defensive efficiency is actually worse this postseason (103.1) to what it was last postseason (102.3), there’s simply no way Perkins’ absence is responsible for the C’s 3-1 deficit against the Heat.
But that’s not going to stop anyone from blaming Danny Ainge should the Celtics not win the next three games.