The Celtics got a mere eight points out of their bench in the series opener with the Knicks, and usually that comes from someone trying to do too much or thinking he's better than he is.

On Sunday, the problem stemmed at least in part because one key Celt seemed not to understand how good he is — how important he is.

Though the Celts were often in mix-and-match lineups during the 87-85 victory against New York, Delonte West knows it's his responsibility to get Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic and Glen Davis — and himself — into the flow.

But West was hesitant with his shot on a night when he passed up several open looks and made 1-of-2 attempts.

Paul Pierce said West's ankle troubles may have contributed to the problem, but the captain knows what his teammate can provide and wasn't happy West wasn't thinking more of himself.

"I was a little upset with him," Pierce said. "I'll probably talk to him. I want him to be a little more aggressive. Coming out of college, he averaged like 18-20 points, and he averaged double figures with us when he was here before. He shot the ball real well.

"I think sometimes with Delonte I really wish he would be a little more aggressive offensively. He does so much for us, just the little things — the blocked shots, the rebounding, the defense. And people don't know how good of a scorer Delonte is. I think he needs to focus on that a lot more, being aggressive shooting the ball."

West wasn't in the mood to chat yesterday, but Pierce and others talked him up.

"I love all the intangibles he brings to the game," Pierce said. "But I think he's focused in on playing the point guard and getting everyone involved first, whereas sometimes I think he just needs to play the game naturally.

"I think he needs to be one of the forefront leaders of the bench. He's a guy that we need to be a scorer along with Jeff Green."

Jermaine O'Neal was looking forward to being a part of the second unit with West this season, and even now that he has to start, he's still hoping to get some time with that crew early in second quarters at least.