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Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game

02.07.10 at 4:14 pm ET
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Stan Van Gundy, who coached his Magic to a victory over the Celtics Sunday, will coach the East team in Sunday's All-Star Game. (AP)

Stan Van Gundy, who coached his Magic to a victory over the Celtics Sunday, will coach the East team in Sunday's All-Star Game. (AP)

The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.

But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.

“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”

But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?

“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”

[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]

So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.

“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.

“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.”

This is Van Gundy’s second trip to the All-Star Game as coach, having coached the East in 2005 as coach of the Miami Heat.

“One of the things I did last time that I plan to do again is when we first get together with the players, just sort of get all 12 guys’ feel for what they want. If everyone wants 36 minutes, that’s not going to happen. But you get an idea sometimes. There’s always one or two guys who don’t want a lot of minutes and that sort of makes it easier.

Van Gundy appreciates having a second opportunity to coach in the game.

“It’s always a great honor. And for somebody like me, as opposed to Doc, even a little bit different because I was pretty damn old before I even thought about being a part of the NBA.

“Doc was a player and the whole thing, and I sort of walk in there. And it hit me the last time and I’m sure it will hit me on Sunday, like basically, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ ”

Where he will be will be a building that is expected to shatter all previous records for attendance at any basketball game ever played.

“It’s a pretty amazing thing,” Van Gundy said. “Being in Dallas and a football stadium, it’ll be quite a spectacle, and so it’ll be an interesting experience.”

Someone asked Van Gundy if he would rather have the time off instead.

“No comment on that,” a smart Van Gundy responded.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Magic, NBA All-Star Game
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