West Should Be Ready for Bulls Rematch
WALTHAM - If you ask Delonte West, he is always ready to play.
Thankfully, the Celtics' medical staff likes to err on the side of precaution and typically will keep him on the shelf when he's trying to sneak off the injured list and back into the lineup. In fact, at times the team will even take West's uniform out of his locker to remind him that he's not quite ready for action. That wasn't the case Sunday, as West was wearing game shorts in the hallway, but then again, Theo Ratliff, who's out for the year after his back surgery, was wearing game shorts before Friday's game too.
But the next time West dons a game uniform, he should actually see some on-couurt action. After missing two games with a mild concussion thanks to an errant Dikembe Mutombo elbow on Wednesday night, Delonte West is expected to be back in the lineup against the Bulls Tuesday night.
"He'll go tomorrow, unless something happens overnight," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said of West after his point guard went through Monday's practice. "He looked pretty good."
Rivers wouldn't say if West would start on Tuesday or not, but given that West worked out with the first unit, as well as Rivers' assessment of Rajon Rondo's two games as a starter suggested that West would likely step back into the starting five.
"[Rondo] is giving you good numbers, but numbers at the point guard position never does a lot for me. It's more about wins and leading. I thought [Friday vs. Seattle] he was great. I felt like yesterday his number were great, but the team didn't get involved," Rivers said. "[But] I love his energy and the little things he does."
Rivers also noted that Ryan Gomes (left mid-foot sprain) will be out of the lineup again Tuesday and it set to be re-evaluated later in the week, probably on Friday. While nothing is decided at this point, he noted that Gomes likely wouldn't be back until next week despite the fact that Gomes, like West, is anxious to return.
"He's out this week, but he says he can play," Rivers said.
Despite saying before Sunday night's game that practice would probably be cancelled, Rivers ran his troops through about an hour of practice on Monday before the team flew out to Chicago at 4 p.m. With the workout sandwiched between the two games of a rare home-and-home set with the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics took the opportunity to review what went wrong Sunday and hopefully apply the lessons to tomorrow night's game at the United Center.
"We went a little harder than the guys thought, but it was quick, harmless, and got to make some adjustments for this game tomorrow," Rivers said of some tweaks to the gameplan against Chicago. "We've got to bring their shooting percentage down."
Since the Bulls shot 49% from the field in Sunday's 94-78 loss, there's certainly room for improvement on defense. But among the adjustments the Celtics must make is finding a way to get Paul Pierce more involved in the offense. The Bulls are one of the NBA's better defensive teams, and Luol Deng specifically seems to give Pierce problems when they match up. Rivers noted that while Deng will give you room to shoot if you put the ball up quick, Pierce's style is a more patient attack that tends to play into Deng's hands.
"We counted Paul's contested shots, and I think he only had like one or two uncontested shots," Rivers said. "Paul likes to get into it with upfakes, but Deng doesn't go up. With his length, he closes in. It's a good [match-up] for Paul."
After Sunday's game, Pierce was reluctant to admit that Deng had locked him up on defense, giving credit to the Bulls' team defense. Whatever the reason, Pierce has just 16 points total in two outings against the Bulls this season.