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Most All-Stars in a Playoff Series (1991-2011)

Posted by Neil Paine on May 4, 2011

This Heat-Celtics series is nothing if not a star-studded affair. A total of seven current All-Stars (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Rajon Rondo) and 2 more former All-Stars (Jermaine O'Neal & Zydrunas Ilgauskas) have drawn minutes in the series so far. But how do those totals stack up to other playoff series since 1991?

First, let's look at the series that featured the most current All-Stars:

Year Round Round# Winner/Leader Loser/Trailer W-L Current AS
2011 ECS 2 MIA BOS 2-0 7
2011 EC1 1 BOS NYK 4-0 6
2008 ECF 3 BOS DET 4-2 6
2006 ECF 3 MIA DET 4-2 6
1998 WCS 2 LAL SEA 4-1 6
1997 WCS 2 HOU SEA 4-3 6
1994 ECS 2 NYK CHI 4-3 6
2010 FIN 4 LAL BOS 4-3 5
2009 FIN 4 LAL ORL 4-1 5
2007 WCS 2 SAS PHO 4-2 5
2006 ECS 2 DET CLE 4-3 5
2005 WCF 3 SAS PHO 4-1 5
1998 WCF 3 UTA LAL 4-0 5
1997 WC1 1 HOU MIN 3-0 5
1997 WCF 3 UTA HOU 4-2 5
1994 EC1 1 NYK NJN 3-1 5
1993 ECS 2 CHI CLE 4-0 5
1991 ECS 2 DET BOS 4-2 5
1991 WCS 2 POR UTA 4-1 5
1991 WCF 3 LAL POR 4-2 5

How about the greatest percentage of available minutes given to current All-Stars:

Year Round Round# Winner/Leader Loser/Trailer W-L Current AS Current AS Mp Total Mp Pct
2011 ECS 2 MIA BOS 2-0 7 525.6 960.0 54.7%
1997 WCS 2 HOU SEA 4-3 6 1678.0 3410.0 49.2%
2011 EC1 1 BOS NYK 4-0 6 907.9 1920.0 47.3%
2006 ECF 3 MIA DET 4-2 6 1359.2 2880.1 47.2%
2008 ECF 3 BOS DET 4-2 6 1349.2 2880.0 46.8%
1994 ECS 2 NYK CHI 4-3 6 1571.0 3360.0 46.8%
2005 WCF 3 SAS PHO 4-1 5 998.0 2400.0 41.6%
2006 ECS 2 DET CLE 4-3 5 1391.2 3360.0 41.4%
1991 WCS 2 POR UTA 4-1 5 992.0 2400.0 41.3%
1997 WCF 3 UTA HOU 4-2 5 1166.0 2880.0 40.5%
2010 FIN 4 LAL BOS 4-3 5 1353.9 3360.0 40.3%
1998 WCS 2 LAL SEA 4-1 6 957.0 2400.0 39.9%
1991 WCF 3 LAL POR 4-2 5 1142.0 2880.0 39.7%
1993 ECS 2 CHI CLE 4-0 5 761.0 1920.0 39.6%
1997 WC1 1 HOU MIN 3-0 5 567.0 1440.0 39.4%
2007 WCS 2 SAS PHO 4-2 5 1121.5 2880.1 38.9%
1994 EC1 1 NYK NJN 3-1 5 760.0 1970.0 38.6%
2009 FIN 4 LAL ORL 4-1 5 946.6 2500.0 37.9%
2001 FIN 4 LAL PHI 4-1 4 904.0 2450.0 36.9%
1993 FIN 4 CHI PHO 4-2 4 1098.0 3030.0 36.2%

That's right, this Boston-Miami series is currently the only one since 1991 where more than half of the available minutes were given to current All-Stars.

Now, what about the greatest number of current, former, or future All-Stars in a single series:

Year Round Round# Winner/Leader Loser/Trailer W-L Current AS Ever AS
1992 EC1 1 NYK DET 3-2 4 13
1992 ECS 2 CHI NYK 4-3 3 13
1998 ECS 2 IND NYK 4-1 2 13
2001 EC1 1 CHH MIA 3-0 2 13
2003 WC1 1 SAS PHO 4-2 3 12
2006 ECF 3 MIA DET 4-2 6 11
1991 WCS 2 POR UTA 4-1 5 11
1991 WCF 3 LAL POR 4-2 5 11
2010 ECS 2 BOS CLE 4-2 4 11
1991 WC1 1 UTA PHO 3-1 4 11
1991 WC1 1 POR SEA 3-2 4 11
1993 ECF 3 CHI NYK 4-2 3 11
1992 WCS 2 POR PHO 4-1 3 11
1992 FIN 4 CHI POR 4-2 3 11
2004 WC1 1 SAC DAL 4-1 3 11
2005 ECF 3 DET MIA 4-3 3 11
1991 EC1 1 CHI NYK 3-0 2 11

The 2011 Heat-Celtics series has seen just 9 players who were ever All-Stars at any point in their careers, but this list is obviously slanted toward older matchups because a series can retroactively move up the list if players get ASG nods later in the their careers.

Finally, here are the series that devoted the greatest percentage of available minutes to players who were ever All-Stars in their careers:

Year Round Round# Winner/Leader Loser/Trailer W-L Current AS Current AS Mp Total Mp Pct Ever AS Ever AS Mp Total Mp Pct
1992 ECS 2 CHI NYK 4-3 3 886.0 3360.0 26.4% 13 2574.0 3360.0 76.6%
1992 EC1 1 NYK DET 3-2 4 771.0 2450.0 31.5% 13 1858.0 2450.0 75.8%
1993 ECF 3 CHI NYK 4-2 3 740.0 2880.0 25.7% 11 2169.0 2880.0 75.3%
1998 ECS 2 IND NYK 4-1 2 353.0 2450.0 14.4% 13 1832.0 2450.0 74.8%
1992 WCS 2 POR PHO 4-1 3 630.0 2500.0 25.2% 11 1865.0 2500.0 74.6%
1993 FIN 4 CHI PHO 4-2 4 1098.0 3030.0 36.2% 10 2224.0 3030.0 73.4%
1992 FIN 4 CHI POR 4-2 3 736.0 2930.0 25.1% 11 2143.0 2930.0 73.1%
1994 WC1 1 PHO GSW 3-0 3 366.0 1440.0 25.4% 10 1053.0 1440.0 73.1%
1997 EC1 1 NYK CHH 3-0 2 259.0 1440.0 18.0% 10 1045.0 1440.0 72.6%
1991 WCS 2 POR UTA 4-1 5 992.0 2400.0 41.3% 11 1736.0 2400.0 72.3%
1992 WCF 3 POR UTA 4-2 3 730.0 2930.0 24.9% 10 2035.0 2930.0 69.5%
1993 EC1 1 NYK IND 3-1 2 317.0 1970.0 16.1% 10 1362.0 1970.0 69.1%
1991 ECF 3 CHI DET 4-0 3 469.0 1920.0 24.4% 10 1309.0 1920.0 68.2%
1991 WCF 3 LAL POR 4-2 5 1142.0 2880.0 39.7% 11 1955.0 2880.0 67.9%
2003 WC1 1 SAS PHO 4-2 3 810.0 2930.0 27.6% 12 1980.0 2930.0 67.6%
2006 ECF 3 MIA DET 4-2 6 1359.2 2880.1 47.2% 11 1945.5 2880.1 67.5%
2000 EC1 1 NYK TOR 3-0 2 237.0 1440.0 16.5% 9 971.0 1440.0 67.4%
1991 EC1 1 CHI NYK 3-0 2 223.0 1440.0 15.5% 11 969.0 1440.0 67.3%
1997 ECS 2 MIA NYK 4-3 3 779.0 3360.0 23.2% 10 2240.0 3360.0 66.7%
1997 WCS 2 HOU SEA 4-3 6 1678.0 3410.0 49.2% 9 2261.0 3410.0 66.3%

Miami-Boston has seen 61.3% of available minutes devoted to current or former All-Stars, which ranks 36th since '91.

UPDATE: ESPN's Alok Pattani wrote about basically the same thing 3 days ago at TrueHoop:

(All) Stars aligned in Celtics-Heat series

I can't believe I missed that the first time around, especially since TrueHoop is firmly entrenched in the Official StatHead RSS Reader.

At any rate, good work by Alok & Elias, who found that the all-time record for most All-Stars in a single series is 8 -- the 1962 Celtics-Lakers Final that featured Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Frank Selvy, and Rudy LaRusso,

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6 Responses to “Most All-Stars in a Playoff Series (1991-2011)”

  1. yariv Says:

    What about only present and past All-Stars? To remove the bias for past games, I mean.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    I thought of that as well, mid-way through the process. I might be able to look at that at some point.

  3. Thomas Says:

    And those numbers don't include Shaq cause he hasn't played yet!

  4. Matt Says:

    Could also look at total all-star appearances. Thats where Boston's numbers get ridiculous (especially if you include Shaq).

  5. Jason J Says:

    And what we've seen so far in the Heat v. Celtics series is the difference between having four All-Stars pre or post prime going against three All-Stars in their prime.

  6. Cort Says:

    jason J - yea you're right. boston looks past its prime thus far, getting nothing out of the o'neal's...
    well i know this series doesnt fit the time parameters, but the 1987 Finals had 11 all-stars, 4 season MVPs (jabbar, bird, johnson, walton) and 6 playoff MVPs (same 4 + DJ & worthy). hard to beat that total...
    as for all-stars boston had bird, mchale, parish, DJ, ainge, walton and wedman...LA had jabbar, johnson, worthy, green. cooper and scott were also close to being all-stars at one point, as was mychal thompson.
    unfortunately for boston, walton and wedman were too hurt to contribute and mchale was also hobbled with a broken foot.
    the boston/LA 84 & 85 finals were also star-studded. wilkes was with LA as was former MVP mcadoo, while maxwell could have been an all-star. kupchak would have been too if he hadnt been hurt, and i think laker backup center in 84 swen nater may have played in 1 all-star game as well as in the aba.
    im sure some of the boston/LA finals of the 1960s were loaded with all-stars, as were the laker/knick finals in the early 1970s (NY 6, LA 3 in 1973). boston (5)/milwaukee (4) in 1974 too...