Delonte West isn't simply trying to be a tough guy when he wraps a compression sleeve around his bruised left shoulder, or talks about taking a shot of painkiller in the offending area to stay on the court.

The backup point guard is simply trying to be true to himself, and with the Celtics on the verge of an early start to the lockout season, West's resolve has become a fine example of what this team needs to escape a 3-1 hole in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Miami Heat.

After an admittedly rough first-round experience against the New York Knicks, West has rebounded with an average of 10.1 points on 15-for-27 shooting in four games against Miami. He has also played some particularly inspired defense against Dwyane Wade.

Considering Rajon Rondo's own physical battle with a recently dislocated left elbow, and the fact that Miami is putting more pressure on the Celtics point guard to make shots, West's role may actually expand before this series ends. West played 30 minutes Monday night in the Game 4 overtime loss, as good an indication as any that he is ready for a heavier load.

"I haven't played that all year, but I'm a high-energy guy who can play heavy minutes," West said. "It's just getting back and playing more minutes. I'm a team player, and I keep myself prepared. A team like this with so much talent, you have to engulf yourself in the team. You get 10 shots one night and two shots the next night, you have to stay the same guy."

After the Knicks series, though, West needed a reminder of who that guy was.