The story of this year’s NBA All-Star Game will seem familiar to anyone who has watched in recent years: LeBron’s team loses. The The Lakers Star is captain for the fifth year in a row, and his team has won each of the previous four competitions before Sunday’s show.
Can LeBron (-5.5) win five in a row, or will Durant surprise without its headliner star?
Who will win the game?
Since the NBA abandoned its original all-star East-West All-Star Game format in 2018, the LeBron team completely dominated the event, ending its four-year winning streak last season with a 20-point victory over Durant.
It helps that Durant’s team played, ironically, without Kevin Durant, who will also be watching from the sidelines at this year’s competition. After an unworthy team was assembled in 2021 – and eventually beaten – Durant’s crew became inferior on paper again.
Here’s a look at LeBron’s team:
|LEBRON TEAM||PPG||ALL STARS|
Here is the Durant team list:
|DURANT TEAM||PPG||ALL STARS|
|Cities of Carlo Anthony||24.4||3|
No disrespect for the incredible talent on both sides, but did Durant think he was preparing to take part in the Rising Stars Challenge? His group has a total of 28 all-star matches, with Joel Embide (five) the only player to show more than three times. Compare that to LeBron’s team, which boasts 68 (!) All-Star participation and a ridiculous nine MVP trophies.
Even the names on LeBron’s bench are intimidating. Former All-Star MVP Chris Paul leads the league in gear and is perfect in this format. Luka Doncic has scored 45 points in three of his last four games. Jimmy Butler quietly ranks sixth in winnings per minute (0.250) and is an isolated bucket.
How in the world do these three get on the LeBron team bench when the Durant team starts * checking notes * Andrew Wiggins? How does any of this make sense? Sure, any team can win in a game where the effort is small, but there is no excuse for one of the parties to be so extremely talented. Never doubt the strength of LeBron James as general manager.
This year’s total (321.5) feels a bit high given that three of the last four All-Star exhibitions have fallen below that mark. The scoring always stops in the fourth quarter, which means these two sides will probably need to score about 270 points in the first three frames.
We’ve seen explosions in the fourth quarter before, but it’s best to hit and hold your breath at a reasonable pace during the first three quarters. Or, conversely, don’t bet on the total. After all, it’s an All-Star Game.
Who will win the MVP?
The NV’s all-star MVP rarely comes from the losing side, which means we have to target the LeBron team’s stars to win this year’s trophy. Fortunately, there are many values on this side:
|Cities of Carlo Anthony||+10000|
The only players at this year’s All-Star Game to win this award are Janice Atetokunmpa (+425), James (+450) and Paul (+6000) are all on LeBron’s team, making each of them an attractive bet. This is especially true for long-range Paul, who completed 15 assists in his 2013 MVP series and can legally exceed that mark this year if he wants to.
The biggest wild card in this market is the advantage of the home court. For the past 35 years, the seven best games of all stars have played for the host team. That’s 20% of the requirements, which is extremely high considering how rarely one of the best players in an event actually plays for a hometown club.
With that in mind, I have eyes Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (+6000), which debuts at the All-Star Game against the backdrop of a breakthrough third season. He has a smooth running and an elite ability to play to set up a show in front of Cleveland believers when he gets playing time. If this game leaves Durant’s team early, expect a big dose of Garland and the rest of LeBron’s team reserves.