Why Celtics should have an issue with how 2020 All-Star Game went

Nick Friar
February 17, 2020 - 11:01 am

The new format for the NBA All-Star Game worked. Even though the game started with countless uncontested attempts at the rim, the fourth quarter was competitive. And with that tone now set, there’s potential for carryover into future NBA All-Star Games games.

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For the Celtics, this was, of course, a significant experience for Jayson Tatum with it being his first All-Star Game. He didn’t play a ton — or hit any of his four 3-point attempts — but this trip to the All-Star Game was more about him earning the spot than anything else.

Now, unlike Tatum, Kemba Walker played a lot (29:10). Joel Embiid logged the same amount of time, and only Giannis Antetokounmpo (30:45) and Ben Simmons (29:10) played more than either of them.

Normally, this might not be an issue. But Walker recently dealt with left knee soreness, which kept him out for three games. As much as he was back for the Celtics’ last four games before the All-Star break, he logged 45:36 in the Double-OT win over the Clippers.

It’s understandable Walker still wanted to play in the All-Star Game, but the Celtics probably should’ve set a minutes restriction for him. 

Well, apparently, they did.

“I was actually supposed to be on a minute restriction, but the game got too close,” Walker said on Sunday, per John Karalis of MassLive. “I wanted to be out there. I wanted to compete. I knew down the stretch that it would get serious like that, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was in charge of Walker and the rest of Team Giannis. He should’ve been made aware of the minutes restriction. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine he wasn’t informed, but it’s not yet known whether or not he was told.

Either way — even if Walker played 10 seconds past his minute cap — it looks pretty strange when the head coach of the second-seeded team in the Eastern Conference plays one of the best players on the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference past his minutes restriction in an exhibition game. Especially when Nurse had two other guards — Trae Young or Donovan Mitchell — at his disposal, to pair with Kyle Lowry.