Finally, it is here. It is NBA All-Star Weekend and it is in full swing. Team World, beat Team USA 155-124 on Friday night to get the weekend underway. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 26 points, had six assists, and four rebounds to lead the World past Jaylen Brown (35 points, 10 rebounds) and the USA. This year’s All-Star Game is unique, of course, because it takes on a whole new format.

 


LeBron, Steph lead hand-picked teams into NBA All-Star Game


Gone is the traditional Eastern Conference versus the Western Conference and incomes Team LeBron taking on Team Steph. The two top vote-getters, LeBron James and Steph Curry, were given the opportunity to pick teams. For the first time in NBA All-Star game history, we will witness true pick-up, playground basketball at its finest. 

Entering Sunday’s tip-off, Team LeBron is a 3.5-point favorite and the Over/Under…wait for it…is a shocking 346. Consider though the last three All-Star games. Each was won by the West. Last year’s game ended 192-182 and 2016’s game was won by a score of 196-173. Only the 2015 game – 163-158 – failed to surpass this year’s Over/Under. 

Last year, Anthony Davis scored 52 points – the most ever in an All-Star game – on his home floor in New Orleans to lead the West to victory and take home the game’s Most Valuable Player trophy. Russell Westbrook won the previous two ASG MVPs and is one of the reasons why Team LeBron is favored to win this year. 


All-Stars collide in LA with teams picked by LeBron, Steph


In addition to Westbrook, James will have Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Slam Dunk contestant Victor Oladipo. Team LeBron was decimated by injuries including the torn ACL by New York’s Kristaps Porzingis. Other injured players that will not see action on Sunday include DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles tendon), John Wall (knee), and Kevin Love (hand). James was able to replace those players with the likes of Paul George, Kemba Walker, Goran Dragic, and Andre Drummond.

Team Steph is young by comparison but is talented especially in the number of shooters it has. Curry’s Golden State teammate Klay Thompson is one as is NBA leading scorer James Harden of Houston. Team Steph also includes Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Throw in Karl-Anthony Towns and Team Steph has a young but very good frontcourt. 

With the last All-Star games averaging over 371 points, the Overlooks strong. Team Steph is going to have to shoot well if they are going to cover in the event of a loss. The last two all-star games were decided by 10 or more points. 


NBA notebook: LeBron 'will not just shut up and dribble'


The Slam Dunk contest opens with a pair of rookies as the favorites. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (+220) and Dallas guard Dennis Smith Jr. (+170) both stand 6-foot-3 and are the early favorites. Larry Nance Jr., recently traded to Cleveland, could become the first son of a Slam Dunk Contest champion to win. His father, Larry Sr., won the very first slam dunk contest.

Eric Gordon (+450) won last year’s 3-point shooting contest, but this year’s favorite is Thompson who is currently leading the NBA shooting 45.4 percent from beyond the arc. He is a career 42.3 percent 3-point shooter and considered one of the game’s best shooters…ever.

The NBA Skills Challenge is kind of the forgotten event during the All-Star Weekend, but there will be plenty of talent on display. The early favorite to win it all is L.A. Clippers veteran Lou Williams (+350). Jamal Murray (+400) and Al Horford (+500) are not far behind. The 2018 NBA All-Star game tips off at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night.

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