Celtics honored to share All-Star experience

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Celtics honored to share All-Star experience

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Tommy Heinsohn was a six-time all-star for the Boston Celtics.

He'll be the first to tell you that he was honored each time he was picked.

But there was one year - 1962, to be precise - that stood out.

That was the year Heinsohn was joined by teammates Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Sam Jones on the all-star team.

"That made it an honor and half," Heinsohn told CSNNE.com. "It's always great when you play for a great team and the team is recognized like that. Because when that many guys go, it's not about their numbers, it's not about their stats. It's about their team. For me, that makes it an honor and half."

The C's once again have four players in the same all-star game after the Eastern Conference coaches voted Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo on to the team as reserves.

Starters. Backups.

It doesn't matter.

The Celtics (41-14) have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and their four all-star selections to a large degree validates that status.

"It's a comfortable feeling," Rondo said. "And it's exciting to be part of it."

For Pierce, this is his ninth all-star appearance - all with the Celtics.

And while each has been special, he acknowledges that this one will indeed be one of the more memorable regardless of the game's outcome.

"It's a big honor. This is something that, when you talk about and look at NBA history, you're going to talk about the last time four teammates made it, I'm going to be part of that," Pierce said. "It's great to be recognized in that aspect and to enjoy it with the guys I been around over the last four years, not only on the court but off the court."

Heinsohn, a Celtics analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England, was part of the 1962 Celtics team that had four all-stars. In addition, he coached the 1975 squad which also produced a quartet of all-star talent.

The year Heinsohn made the all-star with three teammates was also the season he averaged a career-high 22.1 points per game.

That 1962 team featured Bob Cousy was still effective but nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. Bill Russell's dominance of the NBA was just in its infancy. And Same Jones was coming into his own as a big-time scorer for the Green.

Heinsohn recalls one of the strengths of that team was how the players, much like this group of Celtics, understood their roles and carried them .

"Everybody had a job to do," Heinsohn told CSNNE.com. "You may not have always liked it, but you did it. Because we knew that's the way to win. And we did a lot of that, that year."

Boston went on to claim Banner 5 that year - the franchise's fourth straight championship - which included winning a then-franchise record 60 regular season games.

For Garnett, this marks his 14th consecutive all-star selection which ties Jerry West, Karl Malone and current Celtics teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the most consecutive all-star selections in NBA history.

That alone would make this a memorable game for Garnett.

"Being here with those guys and it's more than a pleasure," Garnett said. "You tend to come here by yourself. I've sort of gotten used to that. The fact that I'm up here with three other guys, it's remarkable. I'm happy."

So was former Celtic Paul Silas when he learned in 1975 that he was selected as an all-star.

There was little doubt that the other three Celtics chosen that year - John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and JoJo White - were among the NBA's elite. But the jury was still out on Silas, a burly 6-foot-7 power forward who averaged 10.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game that season.

Even with the uncertainty that he would make the team, Silas said he wasn't nervous.

"I wasn't even thinking about it, really," said Silas, who currently coaches the Charlotte Bobcats. "I didn't think I would get chosen, but the coaches selected me. It was a real thrill for me that they thought that much of my game to select me to the all-star game."

Silas chalks up his selection to one thing: winning.

"We were very successful that year as a team," Silas said. "That's one of the reasons they selected me."

And while all four of the C's all-stars this season have the kind of individual statistics that at the very least validates them being in the all-star conversation, they know the only reason all four of them are here is because the Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA all season.

"So much is made of it (having four all-stars), but our entire team helped us get here, pushing us in practice, helping us to get better," Rondo said. "It's four of us here, but we're representing the entire team."

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

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

The last time Boston played at Washington, the Wizards buried them by 25 points.

It seems the Wizards have a similar mindset for Tuesday’s game which will feature every Wizards playing showing up in all-black.

“You know where we’re going with that,” Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. told the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

Yes.

We do.

But in case anyone wasn’t sure, let John Wall put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you and explain in succinct terms.

“A fun-er-ral!” he said with the man who thought this up, Bradley Beal, in the background yelling, “Yaa!”

The Celtics players acknowledged that Tuesday’s game would most likely be a physical, trash-talking affair.

That stems from their matchup two weeks ago that included a lot of physical play both teams that ultimately ended with the Celtics coming away with a 117-108 win.

ROUND ONE: THE JANUARY 11 GAME

Bradley Beal was whistled for a flagrant-one foul against Marcus Smart that seemed to get both benches hyped up.

Those two have a history dating back to last season when Smart, while driving to the basket, landed his left forearm across Beal’s face. The blow resulted in Beal’s nose being broken in addition to being put in the league’s concussion protocol program.

And after the Jan. 11 game, Jae Crowder and John Wall had a heated exchange of words that ended with Crowder’s pushing his finger into Wall’s nose, and Wall retaliating by slapping Crowder’s face.

The league fined Crowder $25,000 and Wall $15,000 for their roles in the incident.

“It’s going to be a competitive game,” Wall said. “Hopefully everybody just keep it clean and … makes it one of those great battles.”

Said Beal: “We want to keep it clean as much as possible but we know it’ll probably get chippy, a little trash talking.”

Isaiah Thomas, who was whistled for a technical foul in the Jan. 11 game, understands emotions will run pretty high in Tuesday’s game.

 “You just have to be ready for whatever comes our way,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to shy away from it. But we’re all human. There will probably be a little bit of physicality, a little bit of things to carry over to tomorrow’s game. But the most important thing is we just have to try and take care of business.”