Last year's All-Star Game featured an all-time record for points scored. Will this year's East vs. West tilt yield as many fireworks? (On the court that is, enough with the Russ/KD stuff already!)
All Star Weekend wagers are all for fun. But let’s keep it real – if you had Eric Gordon last night at +900 in the Three Point Shootout (as was my #1 pick) it was a whole lot MORE fun! Alas, the high of the longshot Shootout winner was quickly dampened by the WORST DUNK CONTEST EVER.
Oh sure, my fellow NBA nerds can cite a bundle of other lousy dunk contests. After all, there was a reason the contest was all but dead and buried and why stars began fleeing the premises upon mere notion of their participation in the circus. But last year’s epic event, the showdown between Zach Levine and Aaron Gordon put dunking back on the map.
This year set that map on fire and then quickly put out the fire by rubbing its flaming ashes on a soiled baby diaper. Glenn Robinson III won the contest. He made his dunk. Even the crowd was lulled to sleep (watch the trophy presentation, it’s hilarious, you can hear a PIN DROP it is so quiet with a lack of applause or energy).
Sigh…. So much for the rebirth of The Dunk…
Today’s NBA All-Star Game Pick:
Eastern Conference All-Stars at Western Conference All Stars -6
Broken Record Alert – this game is an EXHIBITION. It is for fun, and any wagers should also be treated appropriately. There is not hardcore handicapping involved here. It is narrative and intuition. Largely because no one is TRYING that hard, so it is fruitless to look at a team with better defenders, etc. It really doesn’t matter. In an All-Star Game without a dominant storyline (a legend retiring and being honored, the return of Magic, etc), I like the team with better continuity and more shooters.
So let’s take a look at this thing, and look for an edge.
Let’s start with the three biggest advantages: The game is played in a Western Conference arena, the West has a deeper offensive roster, and the West will often play a lineup with four teammates (Golden State) who are most likely to play together (let’s hope Steph doesn’t try any half-court shots – I LITERALLY had to cover my eyes last night as the awkward embarrassment mounted – awful).
On a serious note, the West had dudes who just flat out SCORE. Durant, Curry, Westbrook, Harden, Klay can all knock down shots all day long. They also have versatile bigs like Boogie and Draymond and hometown Anthony Davis. Top to bottom, their roster is just BETTER. The East does have LeBron, which is not to be underestimated, but in a game with a high volume of scoring, I’ll take the team with the abundance of high-volume scorers.
Last year set a record for points scored in an All-Star Game. I am not sure there is a concerted effort to play any more defense this season, so look for another track meet. The one edge the East has is with their abundance of point guards, but All Star Games tend to be more dunks/threes than assisted set-ups, so I think the West still had the edge. In a real game, the Wall/Thomas combo would mean 48 minutes of tempo and speed advantage. But I don’t think that’ll matter too much today. In the end, I’ll take all the triples from Harden, Durant, Klay and Steph with enough fury from Westbrook to push the West to a cover.
Today’s Pick: WESTERN CONFERENCE -6