STRATEGY: Since the nucleus of this team will be three Boston Celtics—Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman and Bill Russell—Coach Red Auerbach, also of Boston, will undoubtedly play his fast break. Having Syracuse's Dolph Schayes and New York's Willie Naulls to round out a starting five makes it that much more certain. These two, added to Russell, mean backboard control, which makes the fast break possible; Cousy's and Sharman's speed and finesse make it an actuality. Philadelphia's Neil Johnston and New York's Richie Guerin hook out of the pivot for a varied offense. On defense, Russell will have tall support, so he will find it somewhat easier to play his so-called "one-man zone," and pick up drivers like Yardley and Martin when they get around their men. Shooting from outside, Sharman, New York's Ken Sears and Philadelphia's Paul Arizin will keep the West defense "honest."
REBOUNDING: Last year the teams were tied in this department at 70. Harry Gallatin and Nat Clifton pulled down 11 apiece to lead the East, but neither plays this year. However, Russell does for the first time; at last official count he was 224 ahead of his nearest competitor. Even against a collection of All Stars, he should be the difference.
SHOOTING: The East will have three of the five top percentage shooters—Russell, Johnston and Sears—plus the three top free throwers: Sharman, Schayes and Cousy. They outshot the West last year and should do so again.
THE SQUAD: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman (Boston); Dolph Schayes, Larry Costello (Syracuse); Willie Naulls, Richie Guerin, Ken Sears (New York); Neil Johnston, Paul Arizin (Philadelphia).
STRATEGY: Coach Alex Hannum, of St. Louis, will be trying to do what he and all other rival coaches have been attempting all year: get Bill Russell away from the boards, or slip a man in behind him. From among his All Stars, he may have the combination to do the job. He'll try to lure Russell out by having Bob Pettit stay outside and shoot. If Pettit has a hot hand, Russell will be forced out to guard him, and then Cincinnati's Maurice Stokes and Detroit's George Yardley should do well on the boards. If Russell stays in, Stokes will still give him a fight. The flaw in the strategy is that Russell will also have help in Dolph Schayes and Neil Johnston. The battle of the backcourt will feature Dick McGuire teaming with Slater Martin against Cousy and Sharman. Despite all the tall talent, this should be the most interesting aspect of the game, with the East having an edge in scoring punch and the West in speed.
REBOUNDING: Last year's top rebounder was Stokes, with 12. Pettit was second with 11 but, if the above strategy works, he may not be in position for offensive rebounds. Yardley, Minneapolis' Larry Foust and St. Louis' Cliff Hagan will have to help out Stokes.
SHOOTING: The West will have two of the three current leaders in total points—Yardley and Pettit. However, only Cincinnati's Jack Twyman approaches the East's lineup in field-goal percentages, and no Westerner does at the foul line. Even for one game, this is a decided edge for the East.
THE SQUAD: Bob Pettit, Slater Martin, Cliff Hagan (St. Louis); George Yardley, Dick McGuire, Gene Shue (Detroit); Larry Foust, Dick Garmaker (Minneapolis); Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman (Cincinnati).
PRO BASKETBALL is largely a free-lance game. However, on a tipoff or when the ball goes out of bounds, the occasional set play is seen. The one diagrammed above will be used by both sides in the All-Star Game. From the lineup at left, No. 5 pulls out to his right (center) and takes the pass from No. 1. As No. 5 moves backward, No. 1 cuts swiftly past the lineup, losing his guard, who is blocked both by his own man and No. 2. He takes the pass from No. 5 (right), turns and has a clear close-in shot.