Celtics won't start in next month's All-Star game

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Celtics won't start in next month's All-Star game

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PORTLAND, Ore. When the starters in next month's All-Star game are introduced, you won't find a Boston Celtic in the bunch.

Not to worry.

It's hard to imagine that the Celtics' Big Four - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo - will not all be voted in as reserves.

The NBA announced the starters on Thursday.

In the Eastern Conference, fans voted Amar'e Stoudemire of New York and LeBron James of Miami as the starting forwards. At center, Orlando's Dwight Howard was a runaway winner. And the starting backcourt consisted of Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Chicago's Derrick Rose, arguably the best guard in the NBA this season.

Rondo came closer than any other Celtic to being a starter, with Rose beating him out by less than 400,000 votes.

"It's great for him," Rondo said of Rose being a starter. "It's not a disappointment not starting. He definitely deserves it, the season he's having. All of them, all five of them deserve it."

Doc Rivers, who is on track to be the head coach of the East squad, would have liked to have seen at least one of his players selected as a starter, considering they have the best record (34-10) in the East.

"You look at our record and to have no starters is surprising, but not really, because we're such a team," Rivers said. "We're not a team where individuals stand out, but because of the record they should stand out. Hopefully all four are on. I think they should be."

In 2006, the Detroit Pistons had four players chosen for the All-Star game - all as reserves.

Pierce, in line for a ninth All-Star appearance, anticipates he will be selected by the coaches, along with 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.

For Pierce, whether it's getting chosen by the fans or opposing coaches, he has no preference.

"In my career, I've earned each and every one of them," Pierce said. "That's all I can take from it. The guys that start, they earned it, too. You become popular with your play. I'm happy with the way I've gone in."

Rondo, chosen by the coaches last season as an All-Star, echoed similar sentiments.

"I don't know which one would be better; obviously starting would be great," Rondo said. "I got a lot of response from the fans. If the coaches you're playing against every night choose you, that's great as well. Either way, you can't lose. It's a great situation."

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

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

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The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

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Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.