Tag:All-Star Weekend
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:03 pm
 

All-Star: Harden replaces Evans for Sophomores

James Harden replaces Tyreke Evans in Rookies-Sophomores game.
Posted by Matt Moore

The NBA announced today that James Harden will replace Tyreke Evans in the Rookies-Sophomores game (the "T-Mobile Rookie Challenge") on Friday.  The announcement is no big surprise considering Evans' injury history this season. He's suffering with plantar fasciitis, which doesn't really heal except with time and rest, two things not afforded franchise point guards.  Evans has missed the past two games for the Kings with the injury, and realized he needed the time off to try and get a leg-up, so to speak, on rest for the second half of the season. 

For Harden, he should have probably been on the squad in the first place. Harden's numbers are pedestrian (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists), but he's the composite role player, who defends, hits from the perimeter and helps the Oklahoma City offense function to the best of its ability. Plus, he's got that sweet beard. 

The advantage was thought to lie with the rookies regardless, due to, well... Blake Griffin. But with Evans out, the weight shifts even more significantly to the Rookies' advantage. But on the flip side, this is a huge opportunity for Stephen Curry to step up, or, please, Lord, Brandon Jennings to show something comparable to the potential he showed in the first half of last season. 

This game gets almost no play, but it also always features one player taking over in a spectacular way. Chances are it won't be Harden, but he'll still be a worthy representative. 
Posted on: February 4, 2011 7:40 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 8:04 pm
 

David Stern names Kevin Love to NBA All-Star team

NBA commissioner David Stern has added Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love to the 2011 NBA All-Star team as an injury replacementyao-ming-kevin-lovefor Yao Ming. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Silly NBA fans: you voted Houston Rockets center Yao Ming into the Western Conference's starting lineup for the 2011 NBA All-Star game, even though he has only appeared in five games this season and is currently sidelined with a season-ending injury.

Thank goodness for NBA commissioner David Stern who stepped in to make things on Friday right by adding Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love to the team, in place of Yao.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace injured West All-Star center Yao Ming (stress fracture, left ankle) of the Houston Rockets in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. This is Love’s first All-Star Game selection. 
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who earned the right to coach the West squad by virtue of the Spurs clinching the best record in the conference through games played Feb. 6, will determine who replaces Yao in the starting lineup. 
As we noted yesterday, Love was one of the most high-profile snubs left off the original All-Star reserve lists. And, as we noted this morning, Love was pretty disappointed that he had been left off the list.

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash was reportedly one of the favorites to replace Yao, and Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis and Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph were also said to have been finalists.

The Timberwolves actively campaigned on Love's behalf, releasing a viral campaign video with a cologne theme, entitled "Numb#rs."

Love, a third-year forward out of UCLA, is averaging 21.4 points and an NBA-best 15.5 rebounds per game. 

The 2011 NBA All-Star game will be played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Feb. 20.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 7:49 pm
 

NBA All-Star Game snubs: No love for Love

Who were the biggest snubs for the All-Star game, after the reserves were announced ?
Posted by Royce Young and Matt Moore




As it is every year, some worthy candidates were left out of the All-Star game reserves list. But this year, those left out had more legitimate complaints than usual. Here then are three snubs from the Eastern and Western Conference. 

Eastern Conference

Honestly, the Eastern coaches got it all right. It's hard to really say there's a true snub in the East. Going through though, there certainly are a couple players that have a case. Especially since the whole team is made up of the Celtics and Heat

Josh Smith : Probably the biggest snub has to be Josh Smith. Problem is, who do you remove? Smith though is having probably his best season, averaging 16. 2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. His defense is well documented but what he's shown off his is versatility this season. Because of injuries, Smith has played small forward, power forward and even some center.

As a key cog in the Hawks machine, Smith has figured out how to play perfectly next to Al Horford and Joe Johnson. There's always a lot of talk about other big threes throughout the league, but there's no reason not to include the trio in Atlanta. Smith has cut down on the dumb shots, is playing well inside and in transition, is maybe the most dynamic finisher out there. Plus, having him in the All-Star Game would be a treat. Can you picture a fast break of Smith, Derrick Rose and LeBron James? I can and it's pretty awesome. 

Andrew Bogut:  Seeing that the East only has one real center on the roster, Bogut makes a lot of sense. It's tough to move off Horford, but you certainly can make a case for Bogut replacing Paul Pierce or even Ray Allen, since the East is stacked with wings.

Bogut has been injured all season as he hasn't totally recovered from elbow surgery, but he's still averaging a double-double and is one of the best defenders in the league. Plus, Bogut deserves a ton of credit for fighting the way he has. Despite suffering a brutal injury last season, Bogut has battled inside and is putting up comparable numbers to last year even though he can't totally use his right arm entirely. That's impressive.

The Bucks record hurts (19-28) which is probably the biggest reason Bogut was snubbed. If the Bucks are a contender or even a current playoff team in the East, it's almost impossible to keep him off this roster. 

Raymond Felton: A month ago, Felton had a really good case to be on this team. But the last few weeks, he just hasn't played well. And that sort of things hurts because that's the period where coaches were casting their ballots.

However, it's hard to ignore the impact Felton has had on the New York offense. He's still averaging almost 18 points and nine assists a game, which is up there in point guard ranks. He's shooting the 3-ball really well and runs the pick-and-roll as beautifully as anyone. Having Amar'e Stoudemire obviously helps, but still, Felton has executed.

The West is carrying three point guards and the East only has two. So it makes sense to add Felton and take over Pierce or Allen, but it's a tough call to make just because of Felton's position. Fact is though, he's been a huge part in the Knicks first half resurgence which scores extra points with me.

Honorable Outrage Mention:
 Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Thaddeus Young

Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge:  Aldridge has the most legitimate gripe, yes, even more than Kevin Love. Aldridge has had the most team success, and averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds in January . He just dropped 40 on the team with the best record. Aldridge has played masterfully and hasn't had the questions about his defense like Griffin or Love have had. 

Aldridge has become the leader of the Blazers and has arguably the best combination of both size and skill (mid-range, post, perimeter) of any Western forward not named Dirk or Pau this season. He doesn't have the flashy dunks of Griffin, but he's got the wins, which I'm pretty sure the Blakeshow would trade for. And with the Blazers, somehow, someway, still in the playoffs, to exempt Aldridge is to cast a doubt as to whether team performance is only relevant if the player is a known name. 

Kevin Love:  A shocker that he didn't make it.  The NBA's leading rebounder is also averaging 21 points per game to go along with those 15.5 rebounds per game. 15.5. Which is just kind of ridiculous. 

The fact that Love's surrounded by a terrible team assembled by questionable management should not have kept him out. There has been some discussion that Love's stat-hounding ways have turned off coaches and scouts, which may have led to his exclusion. 

Similarly, the Wolves aren't just bad. They're terrible. But if you look at Love's contributions, you have to wonder how much more terrible they would be were he not there. Love can never be accused of taking a night off, and has the first 30 rebound night since Moses Malone. That's quite a long time. Either way, Love has to wonder what more he could have done to wound up on the All-Star squad. 

Zach Randolph: Randolph is the middle of the debate between Aldridge and Love. He averages 20 points and 13 rebounds, which are pretty ridiculous, especially when you factor for pace (23.3% Total Rebound Rate for Love, 21.4% for Randolph). Randolph's team has had more success than Love, though, and recently has surged above .500, closing in on the 8th spot in the West held by Aldridge, thanks mostly to Randolph's performance.

So he has both the rebounding eye-popping numbers of Love and the team success of Aldridge. Throw in the fact that he's a respected veteran who made it last year with similar numbers and it's hard to argue for his exclusion, even with greats like Duncan and phenoms like Griffin in play.

Honorable Outrage Mention: Lamar Odom, Monta Ellis, Steve Nash, Tony Parker
Posted on: February 3, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 7:42 pm
 

NBA All-Star Game reserves announced

NBA All-Star reserves announced, All-Star rosters complete. Blake Griffin selected to NBA All-Star game as a rookie. Four Celtics make the team, East represented primarily by Boston and Miami.
Posted by Matt Moore and Royce Young

The NBA All-Star Game reserves were announced live this evening, and we'll break them all down for you. 


Eastern Conference:

Guard: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson

Forward: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh

Center: Al Horford

The Eastern Conference All-Star team is made up of only six teams. The Bulls have one, the Celtics four, the Heat three, the Magic one, the Knicks one and the Hawks two. 

Rondo has had a fantastic first half of the season, putting up near historic assist numbers. He's had a couple 20-assist nights and as the creator and distributor of one of the NBA's most efficient offenses, it's a well-deserved nod. He's had three triple-doubles and 19 double-doubles. In five seasons, this is two All-Star selections for Rondo. At 35, Allen is one of the oldest All-Stars. But he's certainly deserving. He's shooting over 45 percent from 3 and as one of the most deadly late game scorers in the NBA, he's feared in almost every situation. This is Allen's 10th selection. 

Nobody came on stronger over the last month than Johnson. In January Johnson averaged 26.0 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field. He started slow because of an elbow issue but now that he's healthy, he's back to one of the best isolation scorers and knock down shooters in the league. Five straight All-Star Games for Johnson.

Quietly, Garnett is having an MVP caliber season. Because of his leadership and defense, Garnett has positioned his team as the team to beat in the East. He's always a threat for a double-double and this season has re-asserted his dominance on the interior. This makes 14 straight All-Star appearances for Garnett. Pierce makes it four Celtics on the roster and really, it's hard to say he didn't deserve it. Really, it just came down to which Celtic do you scrub? And it's just too hard to say it should've been Pierce. He's scoring at a ridiculously efficient rate this season and this is his ninth selection.

Bosh is appearing in his sixth All-Star Game. He's taken a lot of flak over his role and perceived toughness in Miami, but his importance can't be denied. Without him, the Heat just aren't the same offensive team. It's easy to forget what a good power forward he really is and he's still one of the very best. A second consecutive appearance for Horford. He's had 24 double-doubles and is quietly one of the premier big men in the league. He's top five in field goal percentage and rebounds and is maybe the most important player for the Hawks. 


Western Conference:

Guard:   Russell Westbrook, Manu Ginobili, Deron Williams

Forward: Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin

Center:   Pau Gasol

Blake Griffin certainly makes an impression, doesn't he? Selected over LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love (we'll get to them in a bit). A rookie selected to the All-Star game itself. Pretty incredible. From there, Deron Williams will likely raise a few eyebrows considering he hasn't had a season up to his standards, but it's not like he's struggled. It's clear that both coaches appreciate the tremendous crop of point guards we have playing in this league currently.  Westbrook making it will surely ease the fears of Thunder fans, and Duncan and Nowitzki were no-brainers based off both team success and individual legacy, even if our own Ken Berger felt Duncan wasn't up to snuff. 

Manu is a surprise selection, but as he's been mentioned in some's MVP conversations, perhaps he shouldn't be. Ginobili has managed to absolutely demolish teams down the stretch, and his play has been arguably the biggest reason for the Spurs having the best record in basketball. 

For the West, the fans got their man (Griffin), the coaches got their legacies (Duncan, Nowitzki), and L.A. is well represented, even without Lamar Odom sneaking in. Now we get to start figuring out who Blake Griffin is going to dunk on. 

Your complete All-Star Rosters (starters in bold):

Eastern Conference: 

Guard : Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson

Forward: LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh

Center: Dwight Howard Al Horford

Western Conference:

Guard:  Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant , Russell Westbrook, Manu Ginobili, Deron Williams

Forward:  Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony , Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin

Center:  Yao Ming (injured), Pau Gasol
Posted on: February 3, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 7:02 pm
 

NBA All-Star Reserves: West and East rosters

A constantly updated list of the 2011 NBA All-Star reserves. Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver.

As the NBA All-Star reserves are inevitably leaked in advance of the 7 p.m. ET announcement, we'll have updates for you. The full rosters have now been announced.

Update 7:00 p.m. EST: Yao Ming's Replacement

Finally, Yahoo! Sports also notes that Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash is the favorite to replace Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who is injured. 

Update 6:49 p.m. EST: Western Conference Reserves

Yahoo! Sports reports the following players have been named to the Western Conference All-Star team as reserves: 

Update 6:45 p.m. EST: Eastern Conference Reserves

Yahoo! Sports reports the following players have been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as reservers: 

Update 6:05 p.m. EST: Kevin Garnett

Like Gasol, we found that Garnett has a page built, along with previously leaked Rajon Rondo. 

Garnett will make it at least two Celtics reserves, with more on the way most likely. Garnett's been playing at a near MVP level with the impact he has on both sides of the floor. He's been his usual dominant, crazy self on defense, and his inside post moves have returned in addition to his mid-range jumper on the pick and pop. He's arguably the biggest reason the Celts have laid waste to the league this season. 

No other prospective reserves have such pages built, as of yet. These definitely don't confirm that they've been selected as All-Stars, but considering the three posted now are locks, they look pretty legit. We'll keep you posted. 

Update 6:01 p.m. EST: Pau Gasol


Someone is either running live screen tests or they jumped the gun. Hoopshype discovered that Pau Gasol has a page built for him as an All-Star. 

Gasol's a no-brainer, as he's arguably the best player on the Lakers, and that's saying something considering, you know, Kobe Bryant. Either way he's the biggest reason for the Lakers' past two championships outside Bryant, and is widely considered to be the best active big man in the game. Odds are good he might wind up replacing Yao Ming as a starter at center, despite his power forward designation.

Rajon Rondo


Yahoo! Sports reports that Rondo will be named an All-Star Reserve. The word you're looking for is ... "duh."  Rondo leads the league in assists per game and Assist Ratio (percentage of possessions ending in an assist). He's the starting point guard for the best team in the Eastern Conference and he does things like this:



Whether the Celtics send three or four , we all agreed, Rondo needs to go. He's the obvious choice. 
Posted on: February 2, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 9:08 pm
 

All-Star Debate: How much does legacy matter?

How much should legacy or prior career achievements factor into a player's All-Star selection? Our NBA crew debates that question. Posted by Ben Golliver.
aldridge-duncan

All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, and par for the course, the coaches have some tough decisions. We'll be debating the merits of each choice the coaches will have to make. These debates don't necessarily reflect the actual opinions of the writers. Think of it as opposition research, only if we opposed everyone. Our third debate? How much does a player's legacy influence his potential selection and how much should legacy influence the selections? Should guys get in on past accomplishments or should the coaches reward the younger guns?

Legacy isn't that big of a deal, and that's a good thing

by Royce Young

The All-Star Game rewards players for having fantastic individual seasons. For having excellent statistics and playing terrific basketball. I think players like Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal have indeed earned something over their careers. They've worked their way into immediate Hall of Fame induction and greatest ever discussions. So in a game that awards that sort of excellence, a player's legacy certainly has something to do with it. If nothing else, it's a pretty good trump card to have.

Overall, I don't think either things should matter all that much. If you're good and you're having a great season, you deserve All-Star consideration. If your team stinks and you've got no legacy, it shouldn't matter if you're an All-Star. That distinction should be earned over the first half of the season, not over 15 years prior. 

Legacy matters a lot, but it shouldn't

by Matt Moore

I think it's pretty clear that legacy is the overriding factor in a lot of coach's decisions. This sport revolves around respect for those who have consistently been great, and is tough on accepting those who have not gone out and obtained such success this season. I think when you look back at so many of the decisions being made out of respect for previous accomplishment, Allen Iverson, for example, versus current role, abilities, and performance, that's pretty clear. But is it right?  I tend to think it's a silly waste of a mark of recognition that could go to someone else. It's one thing if it's someone like Tim Duncan, who's team is the best in the league right now, and while his production doesn't mirror that of his past All-Star seasons, he's still a huge focal point and able to put in a great night's work. But someone like Shaq, or Vince Carter in year's past, where his performance really doesn't have that much of an impact on the game? To include those players over someone younger, who's carried his team this season and performed at a star level I think misses a great opportunity to expose the fans to guys they may not have heard of. 

We've got enough opportunities to lavish over historic legacies. But younger, hungrier players are trying to make a name for themselves now, and in ignoring their efforts, you're downplaying what matters most: what's happened on the court. I look at a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge, or even a less obvious pick in Rudy Gay, whose contributions have meant as much to his team as many of the reserves, and I see a wasted opportunity to really shine a light on guys having a phenomenal season. Oddly, the East seems much more ready to simply accept the work done, with guys like Al Horford and Gerald Wallace selected last year. The typical response is "Those guys are All-Stars?" They are, and they should be. It's time we stop treating the game like an annual repetition of a lifetime achievement award. 

Legacy matters a lot, deal with it

by Ben Golliver

Pardon me for always playing the role of the cynic, but we can agree that the NBA All-Star game is a popularity contest. The easiest way to win a popularity contest? Have an established track record of being popular, of course. Name recognition and star power count a lot; That's just life in a league where the super-duper stars that cross over into "household name" status are 10-100 times more well-known than up-and-comers that haven't tasted true national popularity yet, even if they're better players over the first half of the NBA season.

Does it bother me that young guns occasionally get left out of the All-Star game to pay homage to an elder statesman? Sure, it does. But I tend to look at the cream of the crop NBA talent as a giant warehouse, with new models being introduced to an existing inventory and old models eventually becoming obsolete. There's an assembly line process feel of it, and the coaches do a solid job of making sure deserving players get a crack at some national publicity while the truly deserving players come back year after year. 

To boil it down: I'm cool with the current "you have to really, really prove it" system for young guys to make it. Every year, someone (Kevin Durant, etc.) rises to that standard and it makes the accomplishment that much more special. And, every year, we get a final look at some oldie classics (Tim Duncan, perhaps). I just don't see any perennial, big-time losers in the current set-up.

Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: February 2, 2011 11:29 am
 

Game Changer: LMA drops 40

The Rockets keep bugging the Lakers, DMC gets into it with KG, and LaMarcus Aldridge has the game of his life, all in today's Game Changer. 
Posted by Matt Moore

THE BIG ONE: LMA TAKES OVER TO KEEP PORTLAND ALIVE

LaMarcus Aldridge has become a complete player this season, and has gone from good player to star. No further proof is needed beyond the performance Aldridge gave Tuesday night in the Blazers' 99-86 win over the Western-Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge dropped 40 on the Spurs, with a barrage of inside layups, dunks, and perimeter mid-range jumpers. See for yourself, in the shot chart from our GameTracker: 



7-13 on jumpers? That'll do, LMA. That'll do. Aldridge made a strong case for All-Star reserve in front of the coach for the Western team, not only with his shooting display to go along with 11 rebounds.  Aldridge has become the focal point of the Blazers, and he's the reason they're hanging onto the 8th spot in the West. That Aldridge has become the focal point after so often being passed over by Blazers management and fans is equally notable. First it was Brandon Roy, then Greg Oden, then Andre Miller, and most recently sophomore Wesley Matthews. But with Roy and Oden on the shelf, Miller marginalized by age, and Matthews still learning consistency, it's fallen upon Aldridge to shoulder the team. And he's risen to that challenge. 

Patty Mills at one point lobbed a dangerous, ill-advised pass into traffic for Aldridge. Mills knew it was a poor pass, but trusted in Aldridge to make a play. Aldridge nabbed the pass and nearly threw it down, drawing a foul. That's trust in your star, and the Blazers have it. That Aldridge has had to wait so long to reach this level must make it all the more worth it. Always the consolation prize, with the Blazers hopes for a title run with their young core vanished into a mist of lost opportunities, Aldridge is now the Blazers' best hope moving forward. He's a legitimate star to build around. 

For the Spurs, this game serves as a warning. The Spurs had no one to extend their perimeter defense against Aldridge with.  DeJuan Blair is not mobile enough and Duncan is unable to cover the distance and recover. As a result, Aldridge dropped the array of mid-range top-of-the-key shots you see above.  It's his sweet spot, just as Dirk's is the corner elbow, and David West's is the 16-foot baseline. All give the Spurs problems. Stretch fours are a problem for the Spurs, and they're going to be seeing a lot of them in the playoffs. Meanwhile, their offense sputtered and their defense wasn't able to hit the gear they're going to need in the playoffs.

Not the way they wanted to start the rodeo road trip. 


GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Aldridge, obviously.

Runners-Up:

Kobe Bryant: 32 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists

Luis Scola: 24 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists

AN UGLY COIN FLIP

The Celtics and Kings engaged in a pretty brutal standoff with the officials Tuesday night. The Celtics played their usual brand of brutal, physical, abrasive style, swiping, clubbing, shouldering, and creating so much contact the officials couldn't call everything. And when they did call something, the Celtics reacted with their usual outpouring of incredulity. What the Celtics weren't expecting was for the Kings to attempt the same approach. The Kings sped the pace up, which the Celtics hate, and then got aggressive down low, repeatedly blocking Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis. That helped the Kings to a three-possession lead, which of course the Kings blew down the stretch when their entire offense came unglued as the Celtics buckled down. 

The most interesting part of the game was the interaction between DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Garnett. Garnett did his usual "Look at me, I'm so crazy" act, hitting himself and mumbling obscenities. Cousins, for the most part, seemed off-put by Garnett's defense of him in the post, which involved a lot of slapping at the ball, missing, and hitting Cousins, then predictably getting the call because it's Kevin Garnett versus a rookie.  Cousins did mouth off to Garnett once, prompting Rajon Rondo to try and ease him back with his hand, which caused Cousins to slap the hand away, ending in Rondo shoving him and drawing a technical. It was a weird mirror image to Garnett's own behavior, if obviously less mature. 

Cousins was brilliant on offense, hitting everything from tap-backs and fadeaways to three-pointers.  But on defense, he too often lazed around getting back, didn't commit off-ball, and wound up in poor position. Imagine if the kid had a work ethic. 

LAKERS FINALLY FIGURE OUT THEY'RE TALL

The Lakers needed a win, and an injured, short-handed, small, poor defensively Rockets team was the perfect cure for what ails them.  Of course, for 48 minutes, the Lakers refused to take their medicine, and the Rockets used crack perimeter shooting and savvy ball movement to outwit the Lakers on their way to overtime. The Lakers would make a run by being tall and very good at basketball, the Rockets would call timeout, and then the Lakers would completely go away from everything that worked previously. Sure, the Lakers were missing Andrew Bynum. But the Rockets were missing Yao Ming, obviously, so it's not like they were full strength.

Meanwhile Pau Gasol drifted and drifted until overtime. Kobe Bryant dished seven assists before he scored 7 points in the first quarter, then started to take over offensively again.  Guess when the Rockets came back?  Meanwhile, he went back to distributing and finding Lamar Odom late, which allowed the Lakers to close the deficit and force overtime. In the extra period, it was simple physics.  The Lakers are tall and long, the Rockets are short.  The end. 

It wasn't a great win for the Lakers, but it's a win, and it's a start for their way back.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 6:59 pm
 

All-Star Debate: How many Celtics deserve to go?

Do Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce all deserve to represent the Boston Celtics during the 2011 NBA All-Star game? Our NBA crew debates that question. Posted by Ben Golliver.

celtics-four

All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, and par for the course, the coaches have some tough decisions. We'll be debating the merits of each choice the coaches will have to make. These debates don't necessarily reflect the actual opinions of the writers. Think of it as opposition research, only if we opposed everyone. Our second debate? Do all four Celtics deserve to make the cut?  

Sugar Ray Isn't Sweet Enough

by Matt Moore

I'll go with three, exempting Ray Allen.

We can all agree Rondo is a lock. I think it's safe to say Kevin Garnett has punched his ticket with his season so far. So if we're not sending four, which isn't a bad idea, it comes down to Paul Pierce vs. Ray Allen.  It's true that Allen's been phenomenal, hitting 45% from the perimeter. I've got no issue with him being in the three point contest... versus himself. He's an incredible weapon for the Celtics, having a stellar year.

But the fact remains that Pierce is the better overall player, even this season. Pierce is actually shooting slightly better than Allen from the field (51.2% for Pierce vs. 50.5% for Allen), slightly, and also shooting above 40% from the perimeter. Additionally,Pierce's role in the offense makes it more difficult to maintain that kind of efficiency. Pierce drives into traffic more often, takes step-back jumpers more often, and creates off the dribble with contested shots more often. 

Pierce's total contribution is higher as well, as he rebounds more efficiently and assists and turns the ball over at a similar rate as Allen. Beyond all this, though, Pierce is more tapped in to the emotional core of the Celtics. Allen is the cooler head to prevail, the friendly statesman. But Pierce is the bridge between Garnett's unbridled intensity and Allen's cool, calm personality. He's the franchise player of the C's and his play and player identity is worthy of All-Star status yet again this season.

The Captain Stays Home

by Royce Young

There's no doubt Rajon Rondo is an All-Star. The only question with him is if you think he should rightly be the starter in this game. 

Garnett? His numbers aren't huge but his value to the Celtics is immeasurable. His defense, his leadership and his ability to take over each game he's in makes him not just an All-Star, but an underrated MVP candidate. 

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have both been completely fantastic this season but here's where we have to draw a line in the sand. Four Celtics just can't be on this team. Not that it's not deserved but four players from one team is a bit much. (Plus, three from Miami and four from Boston? That's more than half the roster!)

So the question comes to, Pierce or Allen? Who is more deserving? To me, it has to be Ray Allen. 

Allen's 3-point percentage is impressive enough (45 percent) but it's become more than that for him. He's an underrated defender at shooting guard and is a big reason Rondo is an All-Star. Allen doesn't have a lot of years left on his career, but this is no doubt one of his finer campaigns. He's hitting every big shot, playing well within the system and is such a dynamic weapon for one of the league's very best teams. 

It's not about numbers here for Allen, it's about his efficiency. Pierce is absolutely deserving, but since I've decided for some reason that three is enough, the nod just has to go to Allen. 

Send Them All

by Ben Golliver

The Eastern Conference, by and large, is a cyst upon the NBA yet again. 5.5 good teams (The Knicks get half credit for Amar'e Stoudemire) does not make a conference, and in filling out the All-Star roster, I'm all for pretending that the other 9.5 teams don't exist. Yes, I realize this co-signs the superpower movement that the Miami Heat kicked in to high gear, but in a popularity contest like the All-Star game, it's an acceptable lesser of two evils when compared to rewarding players that can't carry their teams above the pile of mediocrity.

The Boston Celtics aren't just above mediocre, either. Despite injuries to key players, they're the best and most feared team in the conference, by far. They play basketball the right way on both ends -- unselfishly on offense, intensely on defense -- and all of the key pieces make it work. (It's a testament to their overall talent level and dedication that they're able to keep chugging along when one of the key four players goes down.) 

Point guard Rajon Rondo should arguably be an All-Star starter, so he makes the cut without question. Ditto for Kevin Garnett, who has played excellently, if not always with class. And I'm struggling to come up with an argument against Pierce or Allen. Both Pierce -- with 19.2 points, 5 rebounds and 3.2 assists -- and Allen -- 17.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists -- have solid statistical cases. Both have started every game for Boston and have logged more minutes than anyone save Rondo, who is much younger than either of them. 

Whether its team success, past playoff triumphs, raw numbers or star power, the Celtics have every argument covered. All four deserve to go.

 
 
 
 
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