The Celtics might not have a representative in tonight's NBA slam dunk contest as part of All-Star Saturday night, but here's a glimpse at five noteworthy jams from the first half of the 2010-11 season (with accompanying YouTube videos):
--(TIE) 5A. RAY ALLEN ALLEY-OOP VS. BLAZERS--
Kevin Garnett has historically been Rajon Rondo's favorite alley-oop partner, but against the Portland Trailblazers on January 27, Rondo stepped just inside halfcourt and tossed the ball up to a somewhat unlikely target: Ray Allen.
--(TIE) 5B. RONDO TO GARNETT ON THE BREAK--
The Rondo-to-Garnett alley-oop machine went on a bit of a hiatus last season while Garnett continued to make his way back to peak physical form after undergoing knee surgery in 2009. The duo are back in action this season, though, with Garnett demonstrating that he's healthy once again by throwing down lob pass after lob pass from his point guard, such as this one in a rout of the Charlotte Bobcats back in November:
--4. (TIE) RONDO, VON WAFER PUTBACK JAMS--
When he's not setting up his teammates with lobs, Rondo actually gets in on the fun sometimes, like this emphatic putback (above) against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Meanwhile, Von Wafer hasn't had many chances to show off his athleticism this season, but he took advantage of his time in the final seconds against the Utah Jazz last month, with this authoritative putback off of a Luke Harangody miss (Bonus Video: Also coming last month was this gem from Wafter: A ridiculous tomahawk dunk against his old team, the Houston Rockets, off of a feed from a hustling Glen Davis).
--3. SHAQ NEARLY DECAPITATES JEFF FOSTER--
Shaquille O'Neal might be the oldest player in the NBA right now, but he's thrown down a string of alley-oops and rim-rattling dunks this season, none better than the following slam against the Indiana Pacers, in which he nearly takes out Jeff Foster in the process.
--2. RONDO'S BOSHTERIZATION IN SOUTH BEACH--
Rajon Rondo's said publicly he rarely has a desire to dunk in games because of the amount of energy it takes. But against the Miami Heat on November 11, Rondo disregarded any expenditure of exertion as he skied from just beyond the restricted circle in the paint for a vicious right-handed slam. Miami's Chris Bosh failed to make the proper defensive rotation and cut off Rondo's angle to the hoop, but can you really blame him?
--1. PAUL PIERCE'S SLAM OVER TWO RAPTORS--
It's not very often that an NBA player posterizes two opponents on one play, but that's exactly what Paul Pierce did to Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey on this thunderous throwdown in the Celtics' first game of 2011. (Bonus Video: Pierce shows that his foot and hand are feeling just fine with this vicious dunk in Wednesday's first-half finale against the Nets).
Greg Payne is a student intern for ESPNBoston.com
--DISHONORABLE MENTION: THE DUNK THAT NEARLY WAS--
All of the above conversions are praiseworthy, but no dunk attempt from the first half of the season was more humorous than this one from Glen Davis against the Miami Heat last Sunday. Let's just say things didn't go according to plan.