DALLAS — In the middle of their biggest slump of the season, the Celtics received some good news about their brilliant young duo.
Jaylen Brown was named to his first NBA All-Star game Tuesday, joining teammate Jayson Tatum, who will play in his second game. The All-Star Game is scheduled for March 7 at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena.
“It should be some fun, it’s a game in my hometown, my home city and I’m looking forward to it,” Brown said. “I don’t feel very much like an All-Star because we’re below .500.”
Tatum said, “It’s an honor, earning the respect of your peers, the coaches you play against. I just told [Jaylen] congrats, he deserved it. I think that was obvious. But our team isn’t doing so great, so we gotta fix that.”
Brown, 24, has produced his best season since being drafted in 2016, averaging 25.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in addition to shooting 40.9 percent from the 3-point line.
Tatum, who turns 23 on March 3, has continued his ascension, averaging 26 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game in his fourth season. Tatum was an All-NBA third-team selection in his third season.
The selections of Brown and Tatum may have come as a surprise considering the Celtics entered Tuesday’s game with the Dallas Mavericks at .500 (15-15) and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. But both players obviously made a strong enough impression on the Eastern Conference coaches to get the nod. (Celtics coach Brad Stevens was not eligible to vote for his own players.)
While they both are headed to Atlanta, Tatum and Brown may not be on the same team. Top vote-getters Kevin Durant and LeBron James will draft their respective All-Star teams March 4.
Stevens acknowledged that Tuesday’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks was a significant game for the team and perhaps for his tenure after Sunday’s debacle against the New Orleans, in which his team blew a 24-point third-quarter lead.
The Celtics entered Tuesday 7-12 in the past 19 games after an 8-3 start with losses to Detroit, Washington, Atlanta, and New Orleans in the past two weeks.
“I think every game when you’re in the midst of what we’re in the midst of is a pivotal game,” Stevens said. “That’s why [Sunday] was so tough because you have a chance to now build. You have a chance to know to now take two straight games and take some real positive out of it. You see the small growth, but there’s no question every game for us right now is a big game.
“You need to balance all of that with playing confidently and freely and again, it all goes back to what do you put into it. What do you put into preparing? Getting ready to compete? Taking somebody else’s best shot and coming out on top. That’s what it’s going to take to get going in the right direction.”
Here, but not here
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle announced that big man Kristaps Porzingis would miss Tuesday’s game with back tightness, while also addressing trade rumors surrounding the former lottery pick. A report said the Mavericks had been dangling the 7-foot-3 inch Porzingis in deals; team owner Mark Cuban denied those rumors and Carlisle followed suit.
“There’s no trade for Porzingis,” he said. “Nothing has been explored. I know Mark’s denied it. I’m denying it. He’s a Maverick and we expect him to be here.”
Porzingis, 25, has been often injured throughout his two-year stint with the Mavericks, including knee surgery that caused him to miss the first nine games of this season. Porzingis played 31 minutes in the Feb. 14 win over the Portland Trail Blazers but hasn’t played since.
Walker gets green light
Stevens said he considered sitting Kemba Walker on Tuesday and playing him Wednesday in Atlanta, considering his 28-point game last Friday. But the Celtics’ brass decided to play Walker only on the first game of back-to-back sets indefinitely . . . Injured swingman Romeo Langford made the trip and was working out prior to the game, taking jumpers and working on ballhandling. Langford, who has missed all season following wrist surgery, is expected to return after the All-Star break.