|Irish Coffee: Delonte West discusses Kevin Durant||11.18.10 at 11:23 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
One day, Delonte West is the talk of the town, returning to a Celtics uniform three years after being traded and 10 additional games after being suspended. The next day? He’s just another member of a championship contender.
And that’s the way he likes it.
“Now you guys can go back to bothering them and leaving me alone,” West told reporters after Wednesday night’s 114-83 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Now, he’s left to do his thing, which Wednesday night was knocking down 5-of-7 shots for 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block — a little bit of everything.
“Once I left here, in my journey in the league, I’ve matured as a player,” added West. “I’ve come into my own a little bit. I’m just really scratching my potential, as far as playmaking. Right now, I’m embracing my role as a bench player. I don’t want to say Sixth Man. You have a team like this, the whole bench is the Sixth Man.
“I know what I can do. I know I can play at a high level, so it helps the team when I can come off the bench and bring that high level of play out there.”
With his Celtics debut behind him, West can answer the day-to-day questions, like what he thinks of Kevin Durant, his former teammate on the Seattle SuperSonics.
“Y’all seen him,” West told WEEI.com. “I watched him grow up in D.C. He by far scores the easiest [in the NBA]. You watched him in college. I watched him on the playgrounds in D.C. On the outside, he could shoot the ball from anywhere. He’s so smooth with it.
“We’re from the same area. We keep track of each other. I got a chance to play with him a little bit in Seattle, give him some pointers and root him on. The sky’s the limit for the guy.”
West and Durant both grew up in Maryland, outside of Washington D.C. On Friday night, they’ll be reunited when the Celtics host Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. And West knows from experience — defending Durant is no easy task.
“You’ve got to give him a little bit of everything [defensively],” said West. “Put a hand in his face and hope he misses. Guys like that, there’s really no defense for him. He’s either going to make it or he’s going to miss. That’s the kind of player he is. Once he steps across half-court, he’s dangerous.”
As West proved on Wednesday night, he can be dangerous on the court, too.
THE OBLIGATORY SHAQ UPDATE
A 2010-11 Celtics victory just wouldn’t be the same without a postgame interview with Shaquille O’Neal. Heres’ a few highlights:
- On Delonte West: “He’s a great player. He played well. I had the opportunity to play with him last year. Great player and a great guy. He can be a sparkplug sometimes. You guys think he’s crazy, but he’s not. Not at all. I can handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood sometimes.” (Mike Petraglia has more.)
- On the C’s interior dominance: “I’m going to have the advantage on every center that we play. … It’s paying off very nicely. Once we get Jermaine [O'Neal]and Kendrick [Perkins] back, it’s going to be really, really nice – really, really difficult for teams to match up.”
- On his chemistry with Rondo: “Rondo’s a great passer. He gets me the ball. I do what I’ve been doing for 18 years. … It’s not really something you need to work on with him. He’s just a great player. He reads the court very well. … Two great players just working together. He passes it to me, and I put it in the basket.”
- On Rondo’s alley-oop to Kevin Garnett: “[Garnett] understands how the defense is playing, and he actually orchestrated that play. He said, ‘This dude’s overplaying me; this dude’s disrespecting me.’ He’s great like that.”
- On what he told Semih Erden: “I told him to be mean out there, be aggressive. Semih’s a nice guy. … I told him to go out and play and dominate.”
REACTIONS FROM D.C.
As you can imagine, Wednesday night’s 31-point blowout by the Celtics against the John Wall-less Wizards didn’t sit well with anybody on Washington’s side …
- Head coach Flip Saunders (courtesy of the Washington Post): “It was like men playing against boys. I told our guys, they just reached right into our chest and tore our heart out, and just took away our will.”
- Gilbert Arenas: “This is one of them games, where you’re on the playground and you beat somebody up – and the real bully comes and beats you up. They are built for a championship. We’re rebuilding. Until we feel we’re on that level, we have a long way to go. The two championship-caliber teams that we’ve played, we got blown out.”
- Nick Young: “They’re an all-star team. … Obviously, they know how to win.”
WHITE HOUSE HONORS BILL RUSSELL
The White House announced that Bill Russell is one of 15 people who will receive the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, “the nation’s highest civilian honor.”
“Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics’ captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball. Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of 11 championships in 13 years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA — indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States — Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.”
Russell will be the first former NBA player to receive the honor, and based on his contributions to civil rights alone — regardless of the fact that he’s the greatest winner in the history of sports — there’s no question he deserves it. The only question is, right now, could Russell still beat President Obama 1-on-1? I say definitely.
MORE RONDO FOR MVP DISCUSSION
The Sporting News is the latest publication to consider Rondo a contender for the 2010-11 NBA MVP honor. The most interesting tidbit to come from their take is the fact that Garnett believes Rondo can keep up his current rate of 14.9 assists per game — which would eclipse John Stockton‘s NBA record of 14.5 set in 1989-90.
“Why not?” Garnett said. “Who says that he can’t? Let’s see. It’s all about the flow. It’s all about guys hitting shots. He’s in a real good groove. He knows when to attack. He’s picking and choosing when to do certain things. He’s mixing it up really well. He’s keeping defenses off balance. Who says he can’t?”
Well, if the Celtics keep shooting 65 percent from the floor as they did Wednesday night against the Wizards, there’s no reason he can’t.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|The strong and sensitive Delonte West||11.17.10 at 11:35 pm ET|
Shaquille O’Neal has a lot of faith in Delonte West, who made his long-awaited return to the court Wednesday night in the Celtics’ rout of the Wizards at TD Garden. After all, he played last year with him in Cleveland.
“I learned that you guys think he’s crazy but he’s not,” O’Neal said. “Not at all. I could handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood at times.”
West was a very grateful man Wednesday night. And he wore his emotion on his sleeve. He was eligible to play in an NBA game for the first time since serving a league-mandated 10-game suspension for off-court misconduct involving firearms and a motorcycle in the summer of 2009.
With that behind him – and with the faith and support of his teammates and Celtics management - he entered the game as a sub for Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter. He was nervous as if he were a rookie making his NBA debut.
“It brought a tear to my eye,” West said of the loud ovation he received from the crowd, many on their feet in support.
Then West was brought back to earth by Washington’s Nick Young.
“Then Nick Young hit three shots in my face, and that dried up my tears real quick.”
West had the ideal scenario to return to the court on Wednesday night and he took advantage, scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out four assists to lead the bench in Boston’s 114-83 win over the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
“Any game is perfect for me,” West said. “I just want to be back helping out. I’m so excited to be back. Thankful to the lord for this second opportunity and I’ll make the best out of it.”
After playing in practice and in the preseason with the team, West was making his official debut back in a Celtics uniform after serving a 10-game NBA-imposed suspension for off-court misconduct. The Celtics gave the once-troubled guard one more chance, signing him shortly after Minnesota waived him in the summer.
“It felt great,” West said. “For a minute there in the summertime I thought I wouldn’t see an NBA court again. I thank the Lord, ownership here, the coaching staff, and Danny Ainge. They know what I am about. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do. They knew the difference between a bad decision and a bad person. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do.”
West made his debut when he replaced Ray Allen with 3:12 left in the first quarter and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it was only natural that he showed some initial rust but not for long as West found his rhythm, finding Paul Pierce for an open three on the right wing, a three Pierce drilled to give West his first stat in his first game back – an assist.
“I didn’t want to do too much,” West admitted. “Sometimes not doing too much is what the team needs you to do. The second unit responded well in the second half. The first half, our timing was just off. Marquis [Daniels] missed a few practices, I’m getting back into the mix. We’re just trying to adjust to playing with one another. Biggest thing is we got the victory. Other kinks we’ll work out.”
He played 21 minutes in his first Celtics game since being dealt to Seattle following the 2006-07 season.
“In the first half, I just wanted to get my feet wet,” West said. “I noticed that my timing was off a little bit. Guys that know me, I don’t really force much. I let the game come to me. With that second unit sometimes you got to force the flow. When you’re up 20 or 15, it’s hard to go out and want to be aggressive. You want to maintain the lead and give the starters some rest.”
|Fast Break: Celtics beat the Wiz||at 9:55 pm ET|
All five Celtics starters reached double figures as the Celtics built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter and coasted to a 114-83 victory over the John Wall-less Washington Wizards at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 23 points while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and seven boards and Delonte West netted 12 points off the bench in his return to lead the Celtics (9-2) to a 65 percent shooting night.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. Hot shooting: Despite looking sluggish defensively in the early going, the Celtics hit their first six shots and made 15-of19 on the offensive end in the first quarter. And they didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
In all, the Celtics starters shot 71 percent (35-of-49) from the field. Pierce’s 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting — including a trio of 3-pointers — led the effort, as the C’s grabbed a 33-25 lead in the first 12 minutes, stretched it to 16 at the half, 20 after three and as much as 37 in the fourth quarter.
2. Vintage Shaq: Showing signs of the player who made 14 straight All-Star Games, Shaquille O’Neal grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in a swarm of three Wizards, gathered himself and nearly took down the rim with a dunk over all three of them.
Forced into more playing time than usual because of Semih Erden‘s four personal fouls in his first six minutes of action, O’Neal totaled 13 points and six rebounds in his first 16 minutes on the floor. By the time he cooled off, the Celtics had already built a 20-point lead and were coasting to victory.
3. Welcome back, Delonte: Within a minute of his re-debut, Delonte West worked his way under the basket, drew a defender and found an open Pierce for 3. It was skilled, smart basketball — exactly the type of play the C’s are hoping to get all season long from the backup guard.
West had a personal 5-0 run against the Wizards in the fourth quarter, giving him 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block on the night. Not bad for a guy coming off a 10-game suspension.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. Boxing out: Sounds easy enough, but the Celtics apparently didn’t feel like doing it in the first half. On one play, the C’s ran up the court, leaving the ball behind for the Wizards to clean up and score an easy bucket.
The C’s actually out-rebounded the Wizards on the night, 40-36, but 18 of Washington’s 36 boards came on the offensive glass. Javale McGee led the effort, grabbing six offensive boards and 10 total.
2. Semih awkward: After showing flashes of brilliance in his first 10 games, Semih Erden fell back to earth a bit against the Wizards. Facing a tough interior defender in Javale McGee, Erden got into early foul trouble, picking up four personals in his first six minutes on the floor.
It may have been his nagging shoulder bothering him, but Erden (3 turnovers) didn’t seem to have the sure hands that made him so effective in his first 10 appearances.
With that being said, his ability to score inside and knock down free throws put nine points on the board for the Celtics.
3. All quiet on the West front: This one falls more on the Celtics crowd. After playing for some woeful teams in Boston and being traded as part of the deal that brought Ray Allen — and subsequently an NBA championship — to the city three years ago, Delonte West returned to the Garden in a Celtics uniform on Wednesday night.
Yet, when West entered the game, the crowd reacted as if Lester Hudson was returning to the building (which he did), giving a half-hearted ovation. They cheered louder when the Noise Meter popped up on the Jumbotron.
Generally, Boston crowds deliver in those moments — one reason they’re considered great fans — but they missed the boat on that one.
|Marquis Daniels returns to Celtics in time for Wizards||at 7:03 pm ET|
The Celtics got some good news when Marquis Daniels returned to the team after being away from the team for personal reasons and will play tonight against the Wizards. Daniels was in the locker room, sitting at his locker as usual before the Celtics played the Wizards.
Doc Rivers was asked if it was difficult to throw Daniels back into the lineup after being away for two days. “We have no choice so I’m just going to throw him out there and see what he can give us and judge it once the game starts,” Rivers said. “Sometimes life gets involved and there’s nothing you can do about it, so we just kind of roll with it.”
The Celtics are welcoming back Delonte West, who will make his season debut after missing the first 10 games with a suspension. Rivers said he didn’t have a minutes number in mind, but that he would watch carefully. “Usually you have to watch one guy,” Rivers said. “You watch Shaq every night. Now you have Delonte and Marquis, that unit, you just have to watch how they’re functioning together as a group.
Avery Bradley, Jermaine O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins are the inactives for the Celtics.
|Irish Coffee: How the (Delonte) West has won||at 11:38 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Regardless of the weapons charges, his subsequent suspension, his reported scuffle with Von Wafer, the only thing that matters now is this: Does Delonte West‘s presence in the lineup make the Celtics a better team?
Since the Celtics traded him to Seatte three years ago, West played 185 games for the SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the same three seassons, those teams played a total of 143 games without him in the lineup — giving us a nice sample size to measure his value to a team. The results are fairly decisive …
With West: 117-68 (.632 winning percentage)
Without West: 75-68 (.525 winning percentage)
(NOTE: Because West was traded from Seattle to Cleveland midway through the 2007-08 season, those teams played 103 games without him.)
In 57 games off the bench for the Cavs last season, West averaged 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 25.8 minutes while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 33.8 from 3-point range and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Outside of Glen Davis, those numbers are better than any other Celtics reserve this season — regardless of position. In fact, ever since they sent him to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal, the C’s have been searching for a guy like West, who can both spell Rajon Rondo at the point and assume a scoring load on the second unit.
The Celtics signed Sam Cassell in 2007-08 and Stephon Marbury in 2008-09 before trading for Nate Robinson last season. Let’s see how their contributions to the C’s compared to West’s production off the bench for the Cavaliers last season (leader in bold) …
- 2009-10 West (57 games): 25.8 minutes, 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 45.4 FG%, 33.8 3-PT FG% and 82.5 FT%.
- 2009-10 Robinson (26 games): 14.7 minutes, 6.5 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 40.1 FG%, 41.4 3-PT FG% and 61.5 FT%.
- 2008-09 Marbury (23 games): 18.0 minutes, 3.8 points, 3.3 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 34.2 FG%, 24.0 3-PT FG% and 46.2 FT%.
- 2007-08 Cassell (17 games): 17.6 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 38.5 FG%, 40.9 3-PT FG% and 84.0 FT%.
In terms of plus/minus, Robinson was a minus-53 last season when he was on the floor for the Celtics. IN 2008-09, Marbury was a minus-28. In 2007-08, Cassell was just a plus-17. Meanwhile, West was a plus-731 over the last three years. Essentially, with him on the floor, his teams have outscored opponents by an average of 4.0 points a game.
Clearly, West offers the C’s best option at guard off the bench in the Big Three era.
(For the record, my favorite line from the video that accompanies this blog is obviously: “You’d better have my doughnuts.” I’m going to start saying that to everybody I work with.)
RAY ALLEN SEPARATES CELTICS
The difference between the Celtics and Miami Heat, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompsen? Ray Allen. Despite being considered the fourth man on the C’s new Big Four, the 35-year-old shooting guard ranks second on the team in minutes (39.7, behind Rondo at 41.1) and points (18.8, behind Paul Pierce at 21.0) while shooting a blistering 45.9 percent from 3-point land.
“I know how to manage being part of the team and being productive,” Allen told SI. “You can never let it slip. Like you can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to just take it by the wayside [and relax].’ You’ve still got to get your shots up and take care of your body and make sure you’re eating right and sleeping right. The minute you start thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ or you start slowing down, then that’s when your game slows down and people start giving you less responsibility.”
Averaging 2.8 3-pointers per game this season, Allen is just 89 treys away from breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. At the rate he’s going this fall, he’ll break the mark around the All-Star break. Just for fun, let’s take a loot at Allen vs. Miller at age 35 …
- Allen: 39.7 minutes, 18.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 47.9 FG%, 45.9 3-PT FG% and 91.7 FT%.
- Miller: 39.3 minutes, 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.0 FG%, 36.6 3-PT FG% and 92.8 FT%.
Keep in mind, Miller was the first or second scoring option on that 2000-01 Indiana Pacers team, depending on whether or not you’d consider Jalen Rose (20.5 ppg) the go-to guy.
MEET JOHN WALL
John Wall missed Tuesday night’s Washington Wizards game against the Toronto Raptors because of a sprained left foot, and he could be a game-time decision against the Celtics on Wednesday night.
If Wall is anything like Rondo, though, he’ll play, just to guage his level of play against one of the best point guards in the leagu — even if he doesn’t consider Rondo among the NBA‘s elite.
If you’ll recall, in Grant Wahl‘s Sports Illustrated piece on Wall as a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he listed “today’s gold standard: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose.” Absent from the list was Rondo — the only guy to also play at Kentucky.
Speaking of the two point guards, in ESPN’s NBA Awards Watch, Rondo currently ranks second in the MVP race, while Wall ranks first among Rookie of the Year candidates.
HOW THE WEST WOULD BE WON
Well, we started with Delonte West, and we’ll end with him. While reintroducing West to Boston fans, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recall the romantic advice he gave to ESPN’s Page 2 during his previous tenure in the city. Here are a few highlights …
“So, I pick her up in my white convertible. From there, I’d have the music pumping on the radio. The Jim Jones pumping, you know, ‘Summer in Miami’ pumping. Got to keep a little gangsta; you can’t be too soft. You can’t be in there playing some guy that’s crying, talking about don’t leave me and love me baby, wah wah and all that. So Jim Jones pumping and then from there, wind blowing through the hair, boom, we get straight to the point — we eat afterwards because I don’t want to kiss no onions. I don’t want to kiss you tasting like onions and steak and mushrooms and everything.”
“We’re going to my yacht. We’ll pull up at the docks and got a guy waiting for us, open our door up and we walk down a lit-up dock and onto the yacht, where we have dinner set up on the boat and we just cruise out on the water. Sit down and have some dinner, some shrimps and steaks, keep it nice and breezy. Pop some bottles, some Moet Rose. The red Moet, we ain’t popping no Kristal, it tastes like urination. We ain’t popping no Kris, that’s $500 a bottle. It ain’t that serious. It ain’t going to get you drunk. Make sure you put that in there. We ain’t doing a $500 bottle, we’re doing a $99 wine and dine.”
“One more thing: When we’re on the yacht eating, we’re going to have some Popeye’s chicken. That’s for dinner. It’s to let her know, put a mental image on her mind, first and foremost, if you ain’t from the hood, you don’t like Popeye’s chicken. Everyone there loves Popeye’s chicken and the biscuits — phew. But that’s just getting it on her mind, saying, you know, ‘Yeah, I can wine and dine you, but I’m a little rough around the edges and I’m keeping it real with you. I can be romantic, but this is real, we’re going to eat some chicken tonight. Chicken and biscuits.’”
“OK, so from there, we’re doing a midnight skinny-dipping jump. Alright? From there, hopefully she’s got money because I hope Jaws gets her, boom, make sure she got me in the will, bank, I’m good. Oh well, shark got her! Jaws got her.”
So, let me get this straight: The perfect romantic night is a pre-onions hookup followed by a Popeye’s chicken and biscuits dinner with Moet Rose (not Kristal, because it tastes like urination) and, finally, a skinny-dipping expedition where your date hopefully gets eaten by a shark. Got it.
Actually, I think if you follow the exact opposite of West’s advice, you’ll be good.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Delonte West is back; now what?||11.15.10 at 4:37 pm ET|
For the month and a half, Delonte West has been treating his post-practice workouts as if they are a form of penance. For an hour or so after the team is done, West stays on the floor working with whoever will work with him. He goes through a litany of drills and shooting exercises filled with quick starts and stops.
Miss a free throw? Run down and back. Miss two? Do it twice.
The gym has been his sanctuary and his catharsis as he works to get himself back into game shape during his 10-game suspension, which was handed down by the league after he plead guilty weapons-related charges stemming from an incident in the summer of 2009. He’s not nervous. A little anxious maybe to see where his body is at this point, but not about getting back on the court.
“I know what I can do,” he said. “I’m very confident in what I’m able to do out on the basketball floor. They’re not asking me to do anything I can’t do. They’re not telling me to post-up and get 30 rebounds. It’s time to go play my game. That’s the best feeling ever.”
The Celtics have been waiting on him, as well. Doc Rivers feels that a backcourt combination of West and Nate Robinson will be a perfect match for their respective skillsets. On the one hand, West can take some of the ballhandling responsibilities from Robinson and allow him to be a scorer. On the other, West also offers a tough, physical defender.
“I think it helps,” Rivers said. “It moves [Robinson] off the ball half the time. I want Nate with the ball especially in our pick and roll package. It makes them both very comfortable.”
That’s been an issue for the Celtics so far this season. Robinson has not shot the ball well and has not had a strong start to his season. There have been flashes of brilliance, but the Celtics would like to see some consistency develop with their second unit and West is the kind of player who can provide some.
He is also likely to take away whatever time Von Wafer has been getting in the rotation, which has been limited. Wafer has appeared in seven games, but he has logged just 32 minutes and has taken only six shots.
West and Wafer had a pair of well-documented dust-ups already and some have wondered if Wafer’s time with the team would be coming to an end now that West is eligible to play again. That doesn’t seem to the case, at least not yet anyway. But Wafer did not do much with his opportunity, limited as it was, and now may be further edged out of the conversation.
“I still have to earn my playing time,” West said. “It’s a talented team. Guys that are out there earned the right to be out there. it starts here.”
Rivers said West will play Wednesday and while it will take him a bit to get his game back together, the Celtics have a comfort level with West. “He’s older,” Rivers said. “We’ve all matured a little bit. He’s still the same as far as he’s probably one of the most competitive people I’ve ever coached.”
|Avery Bradley returns to practice||at 4:16 pm ET|
Rookie guard Avery Bradley won’t turn 20 until later this month and everyone around the Celtics thinks he has a bright future. But it’s been a slow start to his professional career after the Celtics took him with the 19th pick in the draft.
He had surgery on his ankle after the draft, which kept him out of summer league and also limited his time in training camp and in preseason. Then, he rolled his surgically repaired ankle on Paul Pierce’s foot and the team shut him down for two more weeks. He returned to practice Monday and is happy to be back on the court.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said after a spirited 2-on-2 game with Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and assistant coach Ty Lue. “Just anxious to get a chance to get in there and practice with my team again.”
Bradley didn’t travel with the team, but said players and coaches were texting him with information from the games.
“That’s the good thing about this team,” Bradley said. “They want me to get better. The older guys want me to help me out all the time.”
Bradley is known as a defensive player and he took turns guarding Nate Robinson and Delonte West during practice. His work was noticed by West.
“Avery’s a talented young man,” West said. “He can do good things in this league. He’s big strong guard. He’s physical. He’s athletic. The biggest thing is he has heart. He reminded me of myself a little bit as far as getting after people defensively.”