I’ve seen a lot of people ripping the All-Star Saturday festivities, especially the Slam Dunk Contest, but I’ll admit, I sort of enjoyed the remixed format. John Wall shone the brightest (as predicted here last week, by the way), and Marco Bellinelli won an exciting 3-Point Shootout. However, if they ever go for a 3-point remix and change the rules to where players are guarded and must shoot a three pointer off the dribble, I’ll bet my house payment on Steph Curry. This current “wide open, take your time” format really takes away from his primary uniqueness of ability…
The marquee event is tonight, the annual matchup between the Eastern and Western All-Stars. Everyone knows the Western Conference is superior this season in a way we have never seen before. But in an All-Star format, does the East have enough to prevail? After all, they do have one unique advantage – the super-human known as Lebron James. So what side is the better value in tonight’s game. And I emphasize the word “value” because this is an EXHIBITION GAME, traditional handicapping is pretty dicey in a game where you are more likely to see a player attempt to pass the ball off the backcourt than you are to see him dive for a loose ball, so wager accordingly if you are playing tonight’s EXHIBITION game… Ok, point made, let’s talk some hoops.
Today’s Free Pick:
Eastern Conference All-Stars at Western Conference All-Stars -4.5 (Total: 293.5)
There is something almost silly about typing “293.5” in the “total” line for a sporting event. It feels a bit insane, but a word of caution of going with the intuitive UNDER play; the All-Star Game has gone OVER that scoring threshold in 2012, and was really close in 2011. But over the past ten years, only two games have seen the total get over that mind-boggling almost 300 mark.
There also seems to have been a bit of a rebirth of competitiveness lately, even among superstar (see the interesting tet-a-tete evolving between Lebron and a more assertive Durant), so I like this one to remain UNDER 293. I think both teams are going to, gasp, play defense, in the final four or five minutes. I think Lebron and Carmelo will play well off each other Olympic-style and will also try to win.
There is the problem of depth. The second unit of the West is so ridiculously superior. In fact, I’d take the Western Conference snubs over the second unit in the East. LaMarcus Alderidge, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and Dirk. Wow. Compare that to Demarcus Derozan, John Wall, the shadow of Dwyane Wade and the ridiculously selected Joe Johnson.
I think the Western depth, and home court advantage will give them enough of a cushion that even a super-human effort from Lebron won’t be enough. And if the game is not doubt, then will be the effort of the Eastern stars? I think they will only play hard if it is close. And it is hard to picture the Eastern reserves keeping it close.
I’ll take two picks (both conservative wagers on an exhibition game).