Celtics

Celtics guard Kemba Walker earns All-Star starter nod over Kyrie Irving

Celtics guard Kemba Walker earns All-Star starter nod over Kyrie Irving

The NBA's All-Star Game starters for 2020 were revealed on Thursday night. And the Boston Celtics will have one this year, Kemba Walker.

This will be Walker's second consecutive All-Star start and his fourth appearance overall since entering the league in 2011.

Walker just edged out former Celtic Kyrie Irving for a spot in the East's backcourt. Irving led Walker for a majority of the fan voting process but Walker made the push to make the starting lineup by finishing first in player and media voting while Irving finished sixth in both categories.

And Walker getting the nod over Irving definitely makes sense. 

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Irving has slightly better numbers than Walker -- Irving is averaging 26.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game while Walker is averaging 21.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists -- but Irving has only played in 15 games this season.

And the Brooklyn Nets are just 5-10 in those contests and currently sit in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have a 26-12 record with Walker in the lineup and the team has the third-best point differential in the NBA. They're sitting in the East's fourth seed as of this writing, but they're only 1.5 games out of the second spot, a spot that they held down with regularity before a recent losing streak knocked them down a peg.

Because of this, Walker probably deserved the nod over Irving. But in the lead-up to the announcement, Walker didn't seem too concerned with locking up a starting spot in a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg.

"It'd be cool. Don't get it twisted, that's always a huge accomplishment and a huge honor. But you know, that's not something where I'm like just dying over, you know," Walker said. I got my opportunity last year obviously it was in Charlotte with the team I was playing for. It was really cool to start for the city and the organization.

"But for this year, it's whatever. Whoever gets it, gets it. Much respect to whoever gets it."

That certainly sounds like the Kemba that Celtics fans have come to know and love over the course of the past sixth months.

And Walker was actually more concerned with getting some of his teammates to the All-Star Game and he spent some time talking up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as you see below in the full conversation with Forsberg.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Jayson Tatum (groin), Jaylen Brown (ankle) questionable vs. Magic, Enes Kanter (hip) out

Jayson Tatum (groin), Jaylen Brown (ankle) questionable vs. Magic, Enes Kanter (hip) out

Last Monday night, the Boston Celtics played with their preferred starting five for what felt like a long time. And as a result, they were able to crush the Los Angeles Lakers by 32 points. 

But with the week now coming to a close, the C's are banged up once again.

Ahead of their Friday night matchup with the Orlando Magic, the Celtics are dealing with injuries to two starters and one of their top bench contributors. Enes Kanter has already been ruled out while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both questionable.

Kanter's absence will certainly be felt by the C's. He has been a key bench contributor this season, averaging 9.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. And in his past eight games, he is averaging 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

As for Tatum, he suffered the groin injury in the second half of the Celtics' Wednesday-night win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Being questionable is good news for him, as it indicates that even if he misses Friday night's game, the issue shouldn't be a long-term one.

Brown is dealing with an ankle sprain that kept him out of the team's win against the Grizzlies. He has missed three of the team's last four games because of the ankle issue and a sprained right thumb.

The Celtics will likely rely more on Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart if Tatum and/or Brown can't play. But they'll be hopeful at least one of the two can play.

At center, Daniel Theis will see more minutes than usual with Vincent Poirier being the lone true big behind Theis. The C's could look to play smaller with Grant Williams getting minutes at the five and could also explore calling up Tacko Fall from the G League to provide some depth at center.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.