By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
If only Doc Rivers was allowed to put on a jersey, we could see a full lineup of Boston Celtics at the 60th All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Feb. 20. Instead, Rivers will stay on the sideline and we'll have to settle for four Celtics on the floor at once.
Maybe they'll bring a little defense to the exhibition.
In recognition of their 37-11 record and the sheer dominance of their starting lineup, the Celtics became the seventh team in history to have four players selected to play in the All-Star Game, and just the second (the 2006 Detroit Pistons were the other) to have all four selected as reserves.
Eastern Conference coaches voted Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo as four of the seven All-Star reserves named Thursday. They will be joined by Al Horford and Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat on the bench at Staples Center.
There's not a single first-timer on the Eastern Conference All-Star roster. All four Celtics stars have been All-Stars in their time in Boston, just not all at once. Garnett and Pierce have been All-Stars in each year of the Big Three era, Allen was an All-Star in 2008 and 2009, and Rondo earned his first nod last year.
They're now the Big Four, and when they're on the floor together, they're strong on both ends. They outscore their opponents by 15 points per 100 possessions. The Celtics have earned their reputation as one of the best defensive teams in the league (only the Bulls are better this season), but they're also making a little history offensively.
The Celtics rank just 11th in offensive efficiency, but they're shooting an incredible 52.1 percent from the field, the sixth-highest mark in NBA history, surpassed by five Lakers teams quarterbacked by Magic Johnson. Allen, Pierce and Rondo are all shooting the highest percentage of their careers, while Garnett has been better in a season only once in his career.
For the most part, the top teams in the East do their best work on defense, so there were no reserve choices with real gaudy offensive numbers beyond the Celtics' shooting. The conference's top five scorers were all named as starters, and two of the other three players averaging at least 20 points per game (Danny Granger and Andrea Bargnani) play for teams at least eight games under .500. The other player scoring 20+ points a game is Johnson, who doesn't qualify for the scoring leaders because he's missed nine of his team's 49 games.
Only six teams in the East have a winning record, and that's exactly where the line is drawn for the All-Star roster. Each team with a winning record has at least one All-Star. No teams with losing records have any. Further, the Celtics, Hawks and Heat take up nine of the 12 roster spots.
Of course, the Celtics and Heat don't like each other much these days. The two teams will meet for the third time on Feb. 13 in Boston, just a week before seven of their players join forces in L.A. for the All-Star Game in Staples Center.
It's impossible to make an air-tight case for anybody in the East that wasn't named. Based purely on numbers, New York's Raymond Felton had a case to play in his first All-Star Game. But when you adjust for pace, his numbers don't stand out as much. And the Knicks' poor defense didn't help him, either.
The Bulls' Carlos Boozer is putting up All-Star numbers (he's the only East player other than Dwight Howard averaging 19-plus points and 10-plus rebounds), but he's missed 19 games. And Atlanta's Josh Smith has been inconsistent.
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