Delonte West is expected to play Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets, after having missed nearly three months due to a broken wrist he suffered against the Nets back in November. This is great news for the Celtics who need all the help they can get right now, as their spot atop the Eastern Conference hangs by a thread after the most recent barrage of injuries.
The recent loss of Shaq, Semih Erden, and Marquis Daniels has changed the face of the Celtics’ second unit, which now no longer relies solely on Nate Robinson and Big Baby Davis for offensive production, since Von Wafer has rapidly improved to become a true weapon off the bench. Boston’s bench will continue to change Wednesday night when West is welcomed back at the TD Garden, while the guard combination of West, Robinson, and Wafer looks to put up some critical points in big games to complement Big Baby’s inside-outside game with their own scoring ability.
Boston’s talented shooters off the bench, who will only be in when backing up great scorers like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, will punish opposing backup guards around the league who slack off on defense and leave their men open from deep. Doc likely won’t often use West, Robinson, and Wafer together since they’d be going small, but with Perkins being their only healthy center right now, they will have to go small anyway. All three of them have the potential the shoot the lights out from deep, and West’s ability to dribble, drive, and dish makes him a great asset to Boston’s other backup scorers like Wafer and Davis. He may be coming off a broken right wrist, but he’s also left-handed, and should be able to contribute many valuable jump shots and assists once his timing is back and he’s up to speed.
It will be interesting to see whose minutes are affected the most by West’s return, as his shooting and ball-handling make him very versatile. He can play both point and shooting guard, so either Nate or Von’s minutes will slightly decrease unless the C’s continue to go small and use Wafer at the small forward slot until Daniels returns. I hope that Wafer continues to get some solid minutes, as he has played very well as of late, and his 10 points and 2 steals in about fourteen minutes played helped spark Boston to a win yesterday against the Miami Heat. Robinson needs to keep bringing the energy and hustle he always does, but without his erratic shot selection that results in so many missed jump shots in transition. I hope that the competition from West for minutes as Rondo’s backup will lead to both he and Nate playing smart and energetically off the bench, all while within the Celtics’ organized style of basketball. Boston’s bench may be scrappy, but they will be looking to score.