BOSTON — Asked to handicap the 3-point shooting contest, Ray Allen provided a thoughtful analysis of the players he will face at this weekend’s All-Star game in Los Angeles and complimented each of his opponents, in turn.
Paul Pierce just smiled and nodded.
“Y’all know,” Pierce said when asked for a prediction.
The Boston Celtics will have two representatives in Saturday night’s 3-point contest and, soon, two members of the NBA’s career top 10 in 3-pointers. Allen, who is No. 1 all-time after breaking Reggie Miller’s record last week, is the pensive and methodical one; Pierce is the trash-talking playmaker who’s already letting Allen know: It’s on.
“Paul has been talking all day,” Allen said on Wednesday before the Celtics’ first-half finale against the New Jersey Nets. “He brought the rack out.”
In the contest, players shoot from a rack of balls from five different spots along the 3-point arc; the last ball on each rack is called the “money ball” and worth two points. In addition to Pierce, the defending champion, and Allen, this year’s contest will include Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Golden State’s Dorell Wright, Miami’s James Jones and Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson.
Allen said he won’t do any special practicing for the event, laughing at the notion that he needed to refresh his memory with the format because the distance has changed since he won it in 2001.
“I shoot that shot every day,” said Allen, who made the finals in 2006. “I do this in my sleep — literally. I was thinking about it last night, shooting the basketball.”
The classic professional shooter, Allen has hit a record total of 2,563 3-pointers in his career and thousands more in the gym before and after practice, honing his craft. Although Pierce has a more well-rounded game, he’s no slouch from beyond the arc: With 1,542 3-pointers in his career, he is tied for 12th with Tim Hardaway and just 17 behind ninth-place Glen Rice on the all-time list.
This is his ninth All-Star selection.
“It’s always a privilege when you make an All-Star Game and are recognized as one of the best players in the world,” he said. “It’s going to be great to be able to spend it with my teammates. … We are going to go out together and have dinner, maybe watch a show or something.
“I am going to enjoy these moments, especially with my career winding down. You don’t get too many moments like this.”
Las Vegas odds in the 3-point contest favor Allen, at 2-1 compared to 3-1 for Pierce, according to bodog.com. But most of the Celtics are staying out of this one.
Nate Robinson, a three-time winner of the slam dunk contest, said he is glad he’s sitting it out this year so he can watch Pierce and Allen compete.
“This time I get to enjoy all the festivities,” the 5-foot-9 guard said. “I’m rooting for a tie so they have to keep shooting and going and going and going.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was rooting for both of his guys to reach the final but wouldn’t pick a favorite to win. After all, he has bigger issues on his mind.
He’ll coach the East in the All-Star game, meaning he will have to try to keep his own players happy while also giving some minutes to fairly significant stars like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose. Rivers said he hadn’t decided whether he will play his four together or split them up.
Garnett suggested Howard, “because I don’t want to play center.”
Pierce smiled at the idea of Howard joining Boston’s Big Four for one night — and beyond.
“He would look good in a green uniform,” Pierce said.