Blakely's All-Star Game preview


Blakely's All-Star Game preview

ORLANDO, Fla. Despite their sub-.500 record, the Boston Celtics are well represented at tonight's all-star game. Paul Pierce will be making his 10th all-star appearance for the Celtics -- only four others have done so in franchise history -- and Rajon Rondo will be making his third straight appearance after being chosen as an injury replacement for Joe Johnson.

"It's an honor to be here, regardless of how I got here, I'm here," Rondo said. "It's a credit to my team. The guys have been unselfish and let me do my thing this year. It's a credit to the team and coaching staff."

The game plan, at least for the East, is pretty simple.

"Basically dole out some minutes and get out of the way," said East coach Tom Thibodeau, who also coaches the Chicago Bulls and was a Celtics assistant. "It's going to be a lot of fun. This is really about the fans. The players will put on a great show, and ultimately it usually starts off as a lot of fun."

Having been an assistant on the Celtics staff when Doc Rivers coached the 2008 All-Star Game, Thibodeau knows all the fun and games will change if the game is tight in the closing minutes.

"These guys are ultra-competitive," Thibodeau said. "And down the stretch, though, they'll all be trying to win."

And as with any regular season game, there will be factors that contribute to who wins and who loses.

We'll examine a few right now as the East looks to knock off the West, which would keep alive a trend in which the two conferences have alternated wins since 2006.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR -- With Dwight Howard demanding a trade earlier this year, it'll be interesting to see just how the fans will embrace him. So far, Magic fans have shown him nothing but love. And to Howard's credit, he told the media as soon as interview sessions began that he's only answering All-Star-related questions this weekend. Still, if you see him on the break and he's catching lob dunk after lob dunk from New Jersey's Deron Williams (who is trying to convince him to come to New Jersey next season), how's that gonna play out with the Magic fans at the game?

MATCHUP TO WATCH -- LeBron James vs Kevin Durant: Not only are they among the NBA's best scorers, they're arguably the two front-runners for the league MVP award this season. Not only does James have the edge in numbers, but the Heat may finish with a better record in what's turning out to be an unprecedented season of success in Miami.

PLAYER TO WATCH -- As an Eastern Conference All-Star replacement, it'll be interesting to see how much Rajon Rondo plays tonight. Most of the All-Star veterans like to take it easy unless they have it going offensively. That's not likely to happen with Rondo, who will most likely do what Rondo does best -- pass to guys who want to score.

STAT TO TRACK -- Scoring is, as expected, higher than usual in the All-Star Game. But there's one number that all but guarantees you a win -- at least it has the past few years. The last three winners scored at least 140 points.

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Kings Insider James Ham: "DeMarcus Cousins loves Sacramento; more likely to sign contract extension than get traded"

Kings Insider James Ham: "DeMarcus Cousins loves Sacramento; more likely to sign contract extension than get traded" Kings Insider James Ham joined Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely on this week's Celtics Talk podcast to talk about DeMarcus Cousins and the never ending trade rumors.