It was a familiar scene at the Celtics' practice facility in Waltham, MA Monday afternoon. Rajon Rondo was working on free throws, Nate Robinson and Delonte West were taking turns shooting three-pointers, and a little two-on-two game broke out between Avery Bradley, Ty Lue, Luke Harangody, and Von Wafer (Bradley-Lue won).
One by one each player walked off the court after finishing his routine. The last one to do so, as usual, was West.
He took shot after shot, using every Celtics ball boy to the fullest. Members of the media had no choice but to watch shot after shot fall with a swish. He's been preparing for Wednesday night since he was signed to the Celtics. With his suspension finally up, West can put it all behind him and move forward.
"I'm just ready to go," West said. "[I want to] help this team out the best way I can. If that's Wednesday night or not, it doesn't matter. I'm just happy to have the suspension behind me and able to know if my number is called I've prepared myself well to go out there and try to help out the best that I can."
While West has been an active participant at every Celtics practice, there's no doubt that the actual game will be a whole different story. Doc Rivers doesn't want to put too much on West's plate from the start.
"Just going to throw him in, see what his lungs can take, and see what he knows without taking us out of rhythm," Rivers said. "Then go from there. You never know, you can't have a schedule for that because he may come in and get it pretty well and he may come in and mess the whole team up with the rhythm and you have to get him out. You have to win the game still. But I think he'll be ok."
"Anxious to see how my conditioning is," West said. "Of course the weight room and out here is nothing like game simulation. You just have to get out there and run up and down to get in the flow of things."
West should have no problem getting situated with Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, and Marquis Daniels. Like the starting unit, each player seems to be able to compliment each other well. West makes the Celtics' second unit one of the strongest in the league.
Rivers noted that while he does want Robinson with the ball especially on the pick and roll, it will be West with the ball in hand a lot of times because of his superb court vision for the second and third options.
Rivers has stated on multiple occasions that West is one of the most competitive people he's ever coached, so you can imagine how hard it was for him to watch the first ten games on television. Even so, West didn't let it bother him. In fact, he embraced it.
"It was great, I was like a fan. My neighbors were banging on the walls a few times. It's been exciting. The guys have been putting on a show. It's great, I can't wait until we get back to the full strength we have.
"This team is fun to watch. I found myself as a fan of the game, rooting for my guys, cheering, calling everybody I know, like, "The game is on, you got to watch the Celtics!' So, it's great and it's even better after I see those guys on TV I sit and think to myself, you know, I'm a part of that, you know? And then I come in and see these guys and it makes you appreciate being in the NBA all over again."
West didn't make the trip to Miami, and instead chose to stay in Boston and continue to work on his game.
"Four days in Miami, 85 degrees? I would have loved to been there and support my team, but this is where I needed to be, right here in this gym putting my time in. Those guys, they put their work in - they deserve four days in Miami. This is where I need to be right here."
West's suspension couldn't have ended at a better time. The already thin Celtics have played three overtime games this season. For that reason and others, the Celtics are piling up the minutes. Ray Allen is averaging about 40 minutes a game while Paul Pierce is up around 38 minutes. These guys aren't complaining about it (LeBron James), but West can come and spell Allen, keeping his legs fresh for later in the game.
For West, the reunion has been a long time coming - and ten extra games to boot. There will surely be some excitement when he steps out on the court Wednesday night for the first time, but stuff like that doesn't get to him.
"There's no pressure. Like I said, I know what I can do. I know what I bring to the floor. I'm very confident in what I'm able to do out on the basketball floor, and they're not asking me to do anything that I can't do. They're not telling me to go out there and post up and get 30 rebounds. They're just telling me to go play my game. That's the best feeling ever, when they're telling you that you being you is going to help this team out. So I think that's going to be easy for me."