As a basketball fan, this is definitely the weekend I look forward to the most in the NBA season. Not only does this event bring the stars from every team together, formulating mouthwatering fantasy lineups, it sees celebrities flock by the dozens in support of their favorite athletes or best buds. The pageantry surrounding this spectacle is second-to-none, and no detail is too small for this global event including kick-off parties, fan zones, pre-game entertainment, half-time performances, and everything in between.
This year marks the 65th edition of the All-Star Game, which is taking place in my very own back yard in at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. This is the first-ever NBA All-Star Game to be played on non-American soil.
The Eastern Conference holds a 37-27 record against its Western Conference foes dating back to the first ever All-Star Game played in 1951 at Boston Garden. The Western Conference has shown its superiority lately, however, by winning four out of the last five games and five out of the last seven.
Last season the Western Conference, who closed as a four-point favorite, defeated the Eastern Conference by a final score of 163-158. The last two points came on meaningless free throws, which gave bettors the unlikely cover.
This year, the oddsmakers have tabbed the Western Conference team as a 6-point favorite in the game, with the total set at 315. All odds can be found on BetOnline.
Eastern Conference Starting Lineups
Guard - Dwayne Wade (MIA)
Guard - Kyle Lowry (TOR)
Forward - Lebron James (CLE)
Forward - Paul George (IND)
Forward - Carmelo Anthony (NYK)
Western Conference Starting Lineups
Guard - Steph Curry - (GSW)
Guard - Russell Westbrook (OKC)
Forward - Kobe Bryant (LAK)
Forward - Kevin Durant (OKC)
Forward - Kawhi Leonard (SAS)
The starting lineups for both teams seem to have a good mix of outside shooting and inside presence. While hardly any defense is played for the better part of 48 minutes, the competitiveness of the game usually reaches a boiling point heading into the fourth quarter of a closely-contested contest.
Veterans Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade are not exactly having stellar seasons, but they have earned their places thanks to outstanding careers. Bryant will certainly be the highlight of the game as he makes his final appearance on the big stage before retiring at the end of the year.
Trying to pick a winner in any All-Star Game is not for the faint of heart given the "friendly" nature of the game where just about anything can happen. However, given the West's dominance over the last five editions of this game, I am going to side with them to cover the 6-point spread based on one thing - style of play.
The West seems more suited to an open, run-and-gun type of setting whereas the East has only a couple of players who prefer this style. In a game where defense does not exist, I will side with the crew who can put up points in bunches. Curry, Thompson, Durant, Westbrook and Harden all are synonymous to points.
Pick: Western Conference -6
Despite the fact that two Raptors will be representing the home crowd, I would chalk up home-court advantage to Steph Curry. As the son of a former NBA player, he was born into the spotlight and no time was more prevalent than when poppa Curry was playing for the Raps. Steph would be a permanent fixture around the arena, practicing on the court with the guys and constantly to hone his skills for his school basketball team.
Steph Curry already served notice to the league after capturing his first championship and MVP honors. This coming weekend, however, no matter how "friendly" the game may be, Curry will shine, just as he has seemingly every game for the past two years.
Steph Curry +500 MVP Honors.
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