Celtics

NBA News: A. Sherrod Blakely's choices for All-NBA Teams

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NBA News: A. Sherrod Blakely's choices for All-NBA Teams

BOSTON -- While there are still games left to be played that will decide the postseason fate of some NBA  teams, decisions on who will garner some regular-season hardware are pretty much set.

Although the Western Conference is still widely considered better than the East, actual team records shows a clear shift in power at the top with two of the top three records in the league belonging to teams in the East (Milwaukee and Toronto).

But with any team’s success, ultimately it comes down to the star players getting it done.

And with that, here’s a look at my All-NBA First, Second and Third teams.

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee: The Greek Freak was all that and then some, all season. Already a star before the season, Antetokounmpo took his game to another level and should be on the short list for league MVP.

Paul George, Oklahoma City: The injury a couple years ago that many thought might derail his career, has only driven him to be an even better, more complete player in the NBA this season.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia: A dominant inside force who can occasionally make you pay with his perimeter game, Embiid racked up 59 double-doubles this season including a pair of triple-doubles.

Stephen Curry, Golden State: The former two-time league MVP had one of his most efficient seasons offensively, averaging 27.6 points per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range.

James Harden, Houston: The reigning league MVP is once again deeply entrenched in the conversation, and will finish as the league’s top scorer with a 36.1 points per game average.

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto: Still the best two-way player in the NBA, Leonard ranked seventh in both scoring (26.7 points) and steals (1.78) this season.

Kevin Durant, Golden State: You know you’re one of the game’s best when you can drop 26.1 points per game and it seems like a ho-hum, not-bad kind of season.

Nikola Jokic, Denver: The Nuggets’ ascension was fueled in large part by Jokic’s breakout season in which he tallied a dozen triple-doubles.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: The emergence of Paul George overshadowed another historical season for Westbrook who will once again average a triple-double on the season.

Kyrie Irving, Boston: The Celtics not having the kind of regular season success many anticipated took a little shine off of Irving’s season. But him being a more efficient scorer while continuing to break defenders down with his ball handling and playing better defense, are factors that’ll keep Irving among the game’s elite.

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers weren’t very good, but that didn’t keep James from having another all-NBA caliber season in which he averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists.

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia: He can’t (or won’t) shoot 3’s or long-range jumpers, but that still hasn’t kept Simmons from being one of the bright, young stars of the NBA.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota: One of just seven players averaging at least 20 points (24.4 points) and 10 rebounds per game (12.4), Towns also shot an impressive 40 percent from 3-point range.

Damian Lillard, Portland: Only James Harden and Stephen Curry had a higher scoring average than Lillard’s 25.9 points per game average, among NBA point guards this season.

Donovan Mitchell, Utah: The second-year guard made tremendous strides individually and team-wide in leading the Jazz to the second-best record in the NBA after the All-Star break.

Honorable Mentions: Kemba Walker, Charlotte; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Bradley Beal, Washington; Victor Oladipo, Indiana.

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Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

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The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

Kobe Bryant will forever be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. That unmatched competitiveness was amplified whenever his Los Angeles Lakers faced off against their archrival, the Boston Celtics.

Two months after the Lakers fell to the C's in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant headed to China to take part in the Summer Olympics. There, he helped the United States earn its first gold medal since 2000.

But the sting from his loss to the Celtics overshadowed the euphoria of his Olympics victory.

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WNBA star Sue Bird, who also was in China for the '08 Games, told a great story about witnessing Bryant's competitive attitude while drinking wine and playing card games with him that summer.

“He was fresh off [the Finals loss] and you could tell [he was still thinking it]” Bird told Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwuimike.“… [We were] just kicking it and he saw this newspaper — it was something about the Lakers series and blah blah blah — and there was a picture of Paul Pierce celebrating.

“And he didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything. But we saw him take the paper. He started cutting out the Paul Pierce picture. He folded it up and put it in his pocket and was like, ‘Motivation.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, it never stops with him.’ And you can tell.”

Watch below:

There never will be another player like the "Black Mamba."

Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. He was 41 years old.

You can listen to Pierce reminisce about the C's Finals win over the Lakers in the Celtics Talk Podcast below: