Four Celtics Named as Reserves for 2011 All-Star Game
BOSTON - The Boston Bench Mob is invading the NBA All-Star game.
Shaquille O’Neal proclaimed back in September that the Boston Celtics’ loaded group of reserves would be referred to as the BBM, an acronym for the Boston Bench Mob. Shaq may have been alluding to a group that included the likes of himself and some other offseason acquisitions by the Celtics, but that title can now christen the Big Four as well.
It was announced Thursday night that four of Boston’s starters were selected by NBA coaches as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, a feat that has been accomplished only once before in the history of the NBA, by the Detroit Pistons in 2006. The fraternity of NBA coaches took notice of the performances of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, and made sure to send the foursome to Los Angeles later this month.
But Boston’s players won’t be the only ones showing off Celtic pride over All-Star weekend. The Celtics clinched the conference’s top record through Feb. 6 with a win over the Kings Tuesday night, which means Doc Rivers will represent Boston as the head coach of the East’s squad.
The C’s have racked up a 37-11 record heading into Friday night’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks and have won 22 of their 25 contests in the TD Garden. It’s not difficult to see why Boston has experienced so much success this season, as it has been one of the top teams in the league at both ends of the floor all season long.
Led by stellar shooting from Allen and Pierce, Boston leads the league in field goal percentage (49.9 percent), adjusted field goal percentage (53.6 percent) and effective field goal percentage (53.6 percent), and ranks second in true shooting percentage (57.2 percent). On defense, the Celtics lead the league in opponent scoring at 91.5 PPG and allow the least amount of field goals made per game (33.6). The C’s also limit their opponents to the third-lowest shooting percentage in the league, at 43.8 percent.
While the rest of the league has admired Boston for its continuity and team-oriented play at both ends of the court, the personal statistics and accolades these five Celtics have accrued cannot be ignored. The NBA’s coaches have already shown that they’ve taken notice, but now it’s time to lay those numbers out for you.
|Doc Rivers - Head Coach||2nd All-Star Game (Coaching)||37-11 (.771)||488-391 (.555)|
He almost wasn’t around to enjoy this season, but you can bet that he’s happy he chose to stay on the Celtics boat. Doc Rivers has asserted himself as one of the top coaches in the game of basketball, and he has earned the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars for the second time in his 12-year coaching career. His 37 wins have helped him to move into third place on Boston’s all-time coaching wins list, behind only Hall of Famers and Celtics legends Red Auerbach and Tom Heinsohn.
Rivers has led the Celtics to some phenomenal offensive and defensive achievements through the first 48 games of the season, as highlighted earlier in this piece. His ability to coach and direct this team is one of the greatest reasons why it operates like a well-oiled machine. Without Rivers running the show, no one knows where this team might be.
The NBA named Rivers the Coach of the Month for October/November after he led the Celtics to a 13-4 record out of the gates, including seven wins in eight tries at home. He has one prior experience being the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars, leading them to a 134-128 victory over the West in 2008, but this game will be far different than the first time around. This time he’ll be able to send his Boston Bench Mob, consisting of 80 percent of his starting lineup, onto the floor. The toughest part about that move? Well, that would be deciding who will join his four players on the court, but he has an idea of how he might decide who that fifth player is.
“Whoever is closest to free agency, just so they can see how it would feel (to play with our guys),” joked Rivers.
All kidding aside, the fifth player who does join the four Celtics on the court has a lot to live up to. He will be playing with the most cohesive offensive and defensive unit the NBA has this season, but there’s no doubt Rivers will be able to make it work.
|Kevin Garnett - #5||14th All-Star Game||15.0 PPG||8.9 RPG||2.3 APG|
We all know that since KG arrived in Boston, his numbers aren’t what makes him an All-Star. Garnett has transformed from a stat sheet stuffer into an indispensible force that anchors the most feared defense in the league.
Garnett may not be looked at to accrue huge numbers for the Celtics in the box score, but he still continues to produce at an All-Star level. The Big Ticket is having the second-best shooting season of his career by making 53.3 percent of his shots, which trails only the 53.9 percent shooting year he put together in his first season as a Celtic. That shooting percentage this season ranks 10th in the NBA.
In addition to his hot shooting, Garnett’s rebounding has also jumped up to 8.9 boards a night, compared to 7.3 RPG last season. He ranks No. 7 in the league in defensive RPG (7.8) and No. 3 in the league in defensive RPG per 48 minutes (12.0). With that increased rebound rate, KG has ascended to 17th on the all-time rebound list and No. 4 on the all-time defensive rebound list.
With increased health, confidence and efficiency, the NBA has seen Garnett return to the intense player who can do just about anything he wants at both ends of the floor when he puts his mind to it. This will be only the third All-Star game he appears in as a reserve, but make no mistake that the opposing power forward will not be excited when KG checks into the game in L.A.
|Ray Allen - #20||10th All-Star Game||17.3 PPG||3.6 RPG||3.0 APG|
Allen makes his third appearance in the All-Star game as a Celtic and his 10th appearance overall. The sharpshooter is on the fast track to becoming the league’s all-time 3-point shooting champion, as he currently stands just nine 3s away from surpassing Reggie Miller’s record of 2,560.
Boston’s shooting guard continues to defy the odds as a 35-year-old shooting guard in the NBA. His illustrious career has already convinced many to call him the best shooter of all time, but in his 15th year in the league he continues to improve. Allen is making shots at an excelled rate that even he has never experienced: his 50.8 percent shooting overall and 45.8 percent 3-point shooting are both career highs. He has made at least half of his 3-point attempts in 28 of Boston’s 48 games this season. Those are all incredible numbers for a man who primarily shoots on the perimeter, and they only go up when he’s taking shots in clutch moments.
Speaking of his knack for knocking down big shots, Allen made noise in his first All-Star appearance as a Celtic by splashing home plenty of big jumpers for the East in 2008. He finished that All-Star contest with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting and hit five 3-pointers in the game. LeBron James was named the game’s MVP, but everyone knew the East likely wouldn’t have won the contest without the hot shooting of Allen.
With his shooting stroke only getting better as he ages like fine wine, No. 20 is rising up the record books with his fantastic season. Allen moved into 26th on the all-time list of points scored in a career, and he’s sure to continue moving up.
On another note, Pierce recently campaigned via Twitter that he’d love to defend his 3-Point Contest title against the soon-to-be top 3-point shooter of all time. Tweeted Pierce: “I think me and Ray Allen need to have a shootout in this years 3pt contest what y'all think come on NBA make it happen.”
We agree with the captain. What would be better than seeing two Hall-of-Fame teammates, one the defending champ and the other the all-time 3-point king, both of whom are having career years shooting the ball from downtown, go head-to-head?
|Paul Pierce - #34||9th All-Star Game||19.1 PPG||5.0 RPG||3.3 APG|
Paul Pierce leads the best team in the Eastern Conference in scoring (19.1 PPG). ‘Nuff said, right? Probably, but he’s got plenty more to back up his argument for being selected as a reserve to the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the ninth time in his career.
Pierce began calling himself the “greatest shooter of all time” during last year’s All-Star weekend – we still can’t tell if he’s more joking or serious when he says it – and he has done nothing but back that statement up this season. In his 13th NBA season, he is putting up career shooting numbers of 51.2 percent shooting from the floor and 42.0 percent shooting from 3-point range. Those two percentages are far ahead of his previous career highs, which were both achieved last season, of 47.2 percent shooting from the field and 41.4 percent shooting from downtown. Pierce also has an opportunity to set a career high in free throw percentage, where he is currently making 85.0 percent of his attempts. His best season from the charity stripe also came last season when he shot 85.2 percent from the line.
It’s not just his shooting that has caught people’s eye this season. Boston’s captain has done everything his team has needed this season, and that includes taking on a point-forward role during a brief absence of Rajon Rondo. Pierce notched his first triple-double in more than four years against Indiana on Dec. 19 when he racked up 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week soon thereafter. Pierce also nailed a game-winner against the Knicks in a highly touted matchup on national television back on Dec. 15 in New York.
Another year with the Celtics means that Pierce continues to climb up the ladder of franchise and career milestones. In terms of Celtics records, he now ranks third in points scored, fifth in games played and sixth in assists. Pierce eclipsed the 20,000-point mark on Nov. 3 and currently ranks 24th all-time in free throws attempted in NBA history.
Pierce had a solid weekend in Dallas at last year’s All-Star weekend, taking home the 3-Point Contest crown and scoring eight points in less than 12 minutes of the All-Star game. He has never started an All-Star game, so he’ll have plenty of comfort taking the court as a reserve on Feb. 20.
|Rajon Rondo - #9||2nd All-Star Game||10.6 PPG||4.5 RPG||12.5 APG|
It began as the Big Three Era, but it has quickly transformed into the Big Four Era. Rondo has gone from a young point guard whose flaws the Celtics masked en route to a title in 2007-08 to the engine that runs the team. Make no mistake about it: The Celtics go as Rondo goes.
Boston’s floor general has led the NBA in assists since the moment the season began. He tipped off the season with a ridiculous 17 assists against the much-hyped Miami Heat and set records for the most assists in NBA history through the first four (67) and five (82) games of the season. His opening week performance garnered the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award for the week of Oct. 31.
The quick start wasn’t a fluke. Rondo continues to lead the league with 12.5 APG and has notched two triple-doubles this season, each of which held historic value. He dropped in 10 points, 10 rebounds and 24 assists against the New York Knicks on Oct. 29, and then 12 points, 10 rebounds, 23 assists and six steals against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 5. The latter performance was the first by any NBA player since the league began tracking steals in which at least 20 dimes, grabbed at least 10 rebounds and at least six steals were notched in a single game.
He has quickly asserted himself as the most elite passer in the game and he’s also beginning to climb into the Celtics’ record book. In only his fifth NBA season, Rondo is already 10th on the all-time assists list for Boston’s historic basketball franchise. The Big Three are excited to play with Rondo each and every night, and on Feb. 20, the rest of the best in the Eastern Conference can get a taste, too.