EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS vs. WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
Sunday, Feb. 19 at 8:00 pm ET – Smoothie King Center
The NBA’s best players will do their best to put on a show in New Orleans on Sunday.
The All-Star Game will be taking place on Sunday and the league’s superstars are probably thrilled to be in New Orleans for this one. It’s a good time to unwind and have fun for these guys, but there is still plenty of competition. Bragging rights are on the line, and the Western Conference is going to want to continue its recent dominance over the East. The West crushed the East last year, winning 196-173 at the Air Canada Centre. Russell Westbrook took the MVP honors for a second straight year, as he also led the Western Conference to a 163-158 victory in New York in 2015. The Western Conference has now won five of the past six meetings with the Eastern Conference, but the Eastern Conference has been a lot stronger this year than it has been in the past. There is a lot more talent in the East now and that should translate to a better game on Sunday. The East also happens to be 37-28 all-time in this head-to-head. It’s worth noting for the East that Kevin Love (Knee) is out for the next couple of months and has been replaced by Carmelo Anthony. A lot of people felt that Anthony did not deserve to be the replacement, but this will allow Anthony to play in his eighth straight All-Star Game.
The Eastern Conference is going to be hoping to snap a two-game All-Star losing streak on Sunday, and they definitely have the talent to do just that. The starting lineup for the East is going to include PG Kyrie Irving (24.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG), SF Giannis Antetokounmpo (23.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.0 BPG, 1.8 SPG), SF Jimmy Butler (24.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.8 SPG), SF DeMar DeRozan (27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.1 SPG) and SF LeBron James (25.9 PPG, 8.8 APG, 7.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG). Irving and James obviously have chemistry from playing together every day, and they should put on a show in this game. James will also be one of the favorites to win the MVP award, which is something he has done twice in his career. Antetokounmpo could also be a guy that comes away with that award, as he will definitely electrify the crowd in this game. “The Greek Freak” is capable of dunking the ball from pretty much anywhere, and he’ll also most likely have a nice block or two. Coming off the bench will be PG Isaiah Thomas (29.9 PPG, 6.3 APG), PG John Wall (22.8 PPG, 10.6 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.1 SPG), PG Kyle Lowry (22.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG), SF Paul George (22.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 SPG), PG Kemba Walker (22.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG), PF Paul Millsap (17.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.0 BPG) and SF Carmelo Anthony (23.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.9 APG). There are a lot of talented players in that group, but Thomas, George and Wall stand out as guys that might be able to really thrive off the bench. All three could potentially win the MVP award for this game, and they need to be taken seriously. The one issue for this team will be size. The Eastern Conference does not have any true big men, and that could be a difference in this game.
The Western Conference All-Star team is headlined by starters PG Stephen Curry (24.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 SPG), SG James Harden (29.2 PPG, 11.3 APG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG), SF Kevin Durant (25.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.7 BPG, 1.1 SPG), SF Kawhi Leonard (25.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 SPG) and PF Anthony Davis (27.7 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 1.3 SPG). Of that group, Harden, Durant and Davis are probably the three guys most likely to win the MVP award. All three of them can put up huge numbers and they also have some serious flash to their games. Leonard, meanwhile, will likely bother a few of the East’s players, as his tenacious defense is not something you often see in the All-Star Game. Coming off the bench for the West will be PG Russell Westbrook (31.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 10.1 APG, 1.6 SPG), C DeMarcus Cousins (27.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG), SG Klay Thompson (22.1 PPG), PF Draymond Green (10.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG), C Marc Gasol (20.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG), C DeAndre Jordan (12.0 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG) and SF Gordon Hayward (22.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG). The one thing that jumps out here is that Russell Westbrook was not a starter. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double this season, and he has been the MVP of this game two years in a row. Look for him to come out angry and do his best to win a third straight MVP. Also, the West is massive inside. That difference in the paint could be a major reason that this team blows out the East.