Celtics' Big Four named All-Star reserves

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Celtics' Big Four named All-Star reserves

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. It might be time to officially ditch all this Big Three talk when discussing the Boston Celtics.

The NBA released its list of All-Star reserves Thursday night.

And as expected, the Celtics led the way with four players chosen.

Paul Pierce, who will be making his ninth All-Star appearance - only four Celtics have been chosen more often - will be joined by Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

This will be the first time since 1975 that the Celtics will have four players participate in the All-Star game. It's also the first time since 2006 (Detroit Pistons) that one team produced four All-Stars in the same year. That quartet of Pistons included former Celtic Rasheed Wallace.

Even before it became official, Pierce anticipated that he would be joined by Allen, Garnett and Rondo.

"I look at the top of the Eastern Conference, position by position, I think between me, Ray, Kevin, Rondo, we're right up there," Pierce said prior to Thursday's announcement.

For a good chunk of the voting period, it appeared the C's would have two All-Star starters in Rondo and Garnett.

However, injuries took both players off the floor at various stretches this season.

That time off the court coincided with New York's Amar'e Stoudemire putting up big numbers, and Chicago's Derrick Rose leading an injury-riddled Bulls team - coached by former C's assistant Tom Thibodeau - to one of the best records in the Eastern Conference.

"It's great for Rose," said Rondo shortly after learning that he would not be an All-Star starter. "He definitely deserves to start, the season he's having."

Rondo's play has been impressive, as well.

He's averaging a league-best 12.5 assists per game, in addition to shooting a career-high 51.5 percent from the field.

As for Garnett, his status as an All-Star can't always be measured in his statistics.

He's averaging 15 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, but scoring and rebounding make up a small part of what he brings to the Celtics.

Garnett is their defensive anchor, the last line of defense that has once again been instrumental in the Celtics ranking among the NBA leaders in just about every statistical category on defense.

"I know my role," Garnett said. "Defensive stopper, come out and get Ray and Paul open, move the ball, be a post presence. Come out there, make sure we're energized, ready to play."

And then there's Allen, who far too often is overlooked when it comes to doling out praise and accolades on this Celtics team.

Garnett's fiery on-the-floor persona is hard to ignore. You have Rondo making how-the-heck-did-he-do-that passes all the time. And then there's Pierce, a "professional scorer" leading the way offensively most nights for the Celtics.

Allen has been arguably the Celtics most consistent player all season, evident by him averaging 17.3 points per game, which ranks second on the team.

Known for his long-range shooting, Allen is connecting on a career-best 45.3 percent of his 3-pointers. And with 2,552 under his belt, he's just nine made 3-pointers away from surpassing Indiana great Reggie Miller as the NBA's all-time leader in that category.

"His shot is perfect," said Sacramento coach and former Celtic, Paul Westphal (1972-1975). "He hardly has to bend his knees to shoot. He hardly has to face the basket. His release is so quick."

Allen is just one part of the winning formula in Boston, one that coaches throughout the league have long recognized not only for their play, but how that play meshes into what has become one of the elite teams in the NBA.

"They have different styles," Westphal said. "They blend well together because they don't play the same game. So all they do is make each other better than pound at each other's strengths."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.