Group of C's Heads to L.A. for All-Star Festivities
WALTHAM, Mass. – With the New Jersey Nets now in the rear view mirror, a herd of Celtics headed out to All-Star weekend in Los Angeles today to enjoy the weekend's destivities.
Four of Boston’s starters – Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo – were voted in by the league’s coaches as reserves to the Eastern Conference squad, and the Celtics coaching staff will handle the coaching duties during Sunday's game. However, Rondo claimed earlier this week that those will not be the only Celtics who make it out to L.A. for this weekend’s events. Some of his other teammates will join the party to watch Pierce and Allen battle it out in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest.
“I think we’ll have a couple of guys out there (at the 3-Point Contest), myself, Kevin, I think [Kendrick Perkins], [Glen Davis are] coming,” Rondo said on Tuesday. “So it’ll be interesting to see who each guy’s pulling for once hopefully [Pierce and Allen] get to the finals.”
Pierce will be defending his title in the 3-Point Contest, but to take the championship home for a second consecutive year he’ll need to fend off Allen. Both players are having phenomenal seasons shooting the ball from beyond the arc, but Allen has had the upper hand this season. No. 20 is shooting a career-best 45.7 percent from 3-point range and just surpassed Reggie Miller on Feb. 10 to become the league’s all-time 3-point king. But Pierce is no slouch, and he showed that just a year ago.
Since taking home the title last season, Pierce has jokingly called himself the greatest shooter of all time. He has dropped hints left and right after practices over the past week or so that he plans on beating Allen – and the rest of the contestants, for that matter – Saturday night. His teammates aren’t quite as definitive in their predictions, as neither Garnett nor Rondo would tip their cap in either direction when given the opportunity on Tuesday.
“I don’t know how to answer that,” Garnett said with a laugh after being asked who he’d bet on to take home the win. “As a matter of fact, I won’t answer that.”
“Umm… it just depends,” said Rondo. “I can’t go against my teammates.”
The one thing Rondo would say, however, is that one of his teammates would likely take a loss tougher than the other. When asked who would take the loss harder, he responded, “Probably Ray."
Why? Well, in Rondo’s eyes, the answer is as clear as daylight.
Said Rondo of Allen, “Because he’s the all-time 3-point field goal maker.”
Allen surely wants to win the contest just as badly as Pierce does. He said Tuesday afternoon that both of them are true competitors and never want to lose. They both work hard every single day with the goal of becoming a champion, albeit an NBA champion rather than a 3-point champion.
Speaking of working hard, Allen typically shows up to the arena about three or four hours prior to tip-off to prepare himself for the day’s given game. I asked him how far ahead of the 3-Point Contest he would show up to the arena, and he seemed a bit upset that he wouldn’t be able to run through his typical routine before the contest on Saturday.
“I think I really have no choice in that matter,” Allen said after a short pause for thought. “The bus leaves at whatever time it leaves at, so, schedule-wise, wherever you tell me to go that’s where I’ll be at. I’ve got to sneak in my little strategy so I don’t tell you guys so you guys go back and tell Paul.”
Routines might be broken, but both of these guys have been here before. Allen and Pierce both have a 3-Point Contest title under their belt and will be looking to become the seventh player in the history of the contest to win it more than once. The only other Celtic to accomplish that feat is Larry Bird, who won the first three contests from 1986-88.
You can watch the two Hall of Famers battle it out against the rest of the field, which includes Kevin Durant, Daniel Gibson, James Jones and Dorrell Wright, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night on TNT.