Celtics

Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams

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Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams

ORLANDO, Fla. The debate will go on for years as to where Paul Pierce stands in the pantheon of great Boston Celtic players.

While he's often compared to Celtics greats of the past, a more accurate measurement might be to compare him to his contemporaries of today.

But in doing so, it brings you back to what's clear.

Paul Pierce is without question, one of the greatest players to ever play for the C's.

And while the argument for him being near the top consists of a bevy of numbers, you can add one more number - 10 - to the list.

That would be the number of all-star appearances by the 34-year-old.

Only four other players in Celtics history have been to 10 or more all-star games.

Bob Cousy and John Havlicek were named 13 times each. Bill Russell was selected 12 times. And the man that Pierce recently passed for No. 2 on the franchise's all-time scorers list, Larry Bird, was a 10-time all-star as well.

Cousy. Havlicek. Russell. Bird.

Yes, when it comes to being an all-star, Pierce is indeed in pretty select company.

"It's a great honor," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet and CSNNE.com. "It's a tribute to the hard work that I put in over the years, and staying lucky to be injury-free. I'm very thankful, each and every time you get a chance to play in an all-star game, representing the Boston Celtics is a tremendous honor."

Making things even trickier this year was Pierce missing all of training camp except for one practice, and then having to sit out the first three games - all losses - because of a right heel injury.

Pierce did not look good during his first few games back, prompting some to wonder if it was him still recovering from the injury, or whether the Captain had lost a step or two.

Pierce soon put those doubts to rest with a blistering stretch of play that began with a 34-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound performance in a 100-94 win at Washington on Jan. 22.

Over the next 10 games, Pierce averaged 21 points, 7.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds while the C's went 8-2. In the mix of the that, Pierce was named Eastern Conference player of the week. For the season, Pierce is averaging a team-high 17.6 points to go with five rebounds and a career-high 5.3 assists.

While Pierce's play during that stretch certainly strengthened his all-star credentials, being part of All-Star weekend, he said, was never something he gave much thought.

"Coming into each and every season, it's not really a goal of mine to make the All-Star team," Pierce said. "I just go out there and do the best I can to help my team win. At this stage, in the last three or four years, I'm more about the team than individual things and trying to win a championship. Whatever comes out of that, comes. It just so happens that I made the all-star team on my individual performance. But without my teammates, without them, I wouldn't be here."

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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