The Celtics may have the most wins in the NBA, but as of now they will have only one representative in uniform during the All-Star Game.
The NBA announced yesterday that commissioner David Stern had selected Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace to replace injured Celtics forward Kevin Garnett in the game Sunday in New Orleans.
Boston's Doc Rivers, who will coach the Eastern Conference, said Garnett will be out through All-Star weekend. He missed his seventh straight game with an abdominal strain yesterday as the Celtics defeated the Spurs, 98-90, at TD Banknorth Garden. Boston's lone All-Star available to play is forward Paul Pierce.
"With losing Kevin at the forward spot, it makes sense to replace him with a forward," said Rivers via text message yesterday. "[Wallace] is well-deserving and one of the guys I voted for in the first place." Yet Rivers said he was disappointed Celtics guard Ray Allen was not selected.
Before yesterday's game, Rivers had expressed hope that Allen would replace Garnett in the All-Star Game. But the first-time Eastern Conference coach also expressed concern Garnett might not be replaced with another forward. There have been occasions when the NBA replaced an All-Star at one position with a player at another position. With Wallace, the East now has five forwards.
Allen is averaging 18.4 points and shooting 42.4 percent from the field, 37.7 percent from 3-point range, in 38.3 minutes per game. Wallace is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds.
"I'm still disappointed in the original selection, or lack of [selection], for Ray," Rivers said. "He has sacrificed more than anyone to make things work here, and that should be rewarded."
Said Allen in a phone interview about Wallace, "He definitely deserves it. His team is doing well."
Before yesterday's game, Allen had said, "Of course, I would love to go there and be a representative of this team. We've had a great first half of the season. There is no place that you'd rather be to walk into a hotel than at an All-Star city because you got so much to be proud of.
"It's tough when you've lost and you've had a bad season as a team and you go to the All-Star Game because there is not much going on. But the Celtics have been the story. I'll be watching if I'm not there."
The Pistons now have three Stars in Wallace and guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. Before last night's game, Detroit coach Flip Saunders said, "There's a lot of guys that are good players that don't go to the All-Star Game because of their position. Ray Allen is probably a guy that's deserving, but from a position standpoint, as far as Garnett going out . . . [the East is] small as it is because they really didn't go with a backup center with Chris Bosh. He's a forward."
Center Kendrick Perkins missed the game with what is being called a strained left shoulder, but he hopes to play before the All-Star break. Perkins suffered the injury during the third quarter of Friday night's win at Minnesota. He said he didn't know how he suffered the injury and said he pushed his shoulder back into its socket after it was dislocated. "I don't know how much longer it's going to be," Perkins said.
Perkins missed 13 games with a dislocated left shoulder during the 2005-06 season. While Rivers is concerned, he doesn't think Perkins's current injury is as severe as the last one. Perkins said doctors had to push his shoulder back in during the previous injury and it was different part of the shoulder.
"The shoulder is always a concern," Rivers said. "If you know the histories of shoulders, when they come out it usually means they are going to come back out. When you have surgery you hope it never comes back out. And if it happens again, then it probably will happen again. That's just the nature of that injury."
The big question
The Celtics are also without veteran center Scot Pollard, who hasn't played since Jan. 9 against Charlotte because of a left ankle sprain.
Although Pollard didn't play yesterday, he did dress in case of an emergency.
Because of injuries, the Celtics will not practice today before flying to Indianapolis for tomorrow night's game against the Pacers.
When asked if the Celtics needed some big-man help, Rivers said, "I don't know. Injury-wise, yeah. But when we are all healthy, no. But we're going to be healthy eventually. We'll have to get to that day."