- NBA All-Star weekend is just one night this year, on Sunday with limited fans attending in Atlanta
- The Dunk Contest will be at halftime of the ASG, with the other contests coming pregame
- What are some bets to look out for this weekend? Chris Sheridan provides commentary below
The All-Star Game that wasn’t supposed to happen is happening Sunday after all, and the best players are going to be there because their contracts call for them to participate. But they are not happy about it, and it remains to be seen how that will impact the quality of play in a game that is always a crazy shootout.
This year’s version is called Team LeBron vs. Team Durant, because KD and LBJ were the top vote-getters. James’ team opened as a 4-point favorite after the two captains picked their squads on TNT Thursday night.
“That’s the starting 5? Yeah, it’s over guys,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “Me, LeBron, Luka (Doncic), (Nikola) Jokic and Steph (Curry)? Man, that’s a good starting 5.”
Team Durant vs Team LeBron All-Star Game Odds
|Team Durant||+142||+3.5 (-110)||O 307.5 (-110)|
|Team LeBron||-168||-3.5 (-110)||U 307.5 (-110)|
Odds taken March 4th at FanDuel
All-Star Game Rosters & Trends
The rest of Team LeBron includes Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Chris Paul, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Domantas Sabonis and Rudy Gobert. The starters for Team Durant are Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum. The reserves are James Harden, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Julius Randle, Nikola Vučević and Donovan Mitchell.
Not since 2013 have the teams failed to combine for at least 300 points, and the over/under for this one has been set at 307.5. The record for most points was set in 2016, when the teams combined for 374 points and Russell Westbrook took home his second consecutive All-Star MVP trophy.
2021 NBA MVP Odds
|Player||Odds at DraftKings||Odds at FanDuel|
Odds taken from each book on March 5th
How to Pick the Best MVP Candidate?
All-Star games typically get interesting in the fourth quarter, because these are the best players in the NBA and they want to win. It’s a pride thing, after all. So even if one player is outperforming everyone else through the first three quarters, that does not make him a lock for MVP.
That’ll go to the player who gets the job done in the fourth quarter, so pick your closer wisely. We could be in for “Dame Time” late on Sunday evening.
NBA 3-Point Contest Odds
|Player||Odds at DraftKings||Odds at FanDuel|
Who Will Be This Year’s Larry Bird?
All of the participants in the three-point shootout are All-Stars. They include former champions Booker and Curry, along with Brown and Tatum of the Celtics, LaVine of the Bulls and Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. This marks the first time in which each participant is a current NBA All-Star.
Booker, the 2018 champion, will make his fifth appearance in the event. Curry, the 2015 champion, will compete for the seventh time, tying Dale Ellis for the second-most appearances behind Craig Hodges (eight). A seven-time NBA All-Star, Curry has made a league-high 164 3-pointers this season.
He holds the NBA single-season record for 3-pointers made (402 in 2015-16) and ranks second in career 3-pointers made (2,659).
For the second consecutive year, the contest will feature the “MTN DEW Zone” – two deep shot locations positioned equal distance between the traditional racks at the top of the three-point arc and the adjacent “wing” rack.
Each of the two ball pedestals are located six feet behind the three-point line and holds one special green ball, the “3-Ball.” Shots made with the green ball are worth three points.
In addition to those two shots, the contest will have five main shooting locations – four racks containing four official NBA game balls (each worth one point) and one multi-colored “money” ball (worth two points), as well as one special “all money ball” rack. Every ball on the all money ball rack, which each participant can place at any of the five traditional shooting locations, is worth two points. Each competitor will have 70 seconds (1:10) to shoot as many as the 27 balls as he can.
Draft Kings has Curry and Booker as the +450 co-favorites to make all five moneyball shots. LaVine is +600, Mitchell is +700 and Tatum and Brown are +800.
So there are a lot of rules, but it comes down to selecting the guy who is going to be humming on a Sunday afternoon. The best barometer for predicting success is current shooting percentages. LaVine is the best at 43.3 percent; Curry is second at 41.3 percent.
Booker is the worst of the six at 36.7, but he may have a chip on his shoulder after getting ejected from the Suns’ victory over the Lakers on Tuesday night.
2021 Slam Dunk Contest Odds
|Player||Odds at PointsBet|
Only Three Players In Dunk Contest This Year
Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers, Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers and Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks are all first-time participants, and all but Simons have been gathering dust on their teams’ benches this season.
Stanley, out of Duke, is on a two-way contract and has appeared in only eight games, none since Jan. 26. This is what he did two years ago against Jalen Green (G-League ignite) in the first SLAM Magazine dunk contest.
Simons has played in 30 games for the Blazers as a reserve, and it is fair to assume that he is getting tips from teammate Derrick Jones Jr., who won the contest last year when he was with the Miami Heat. Simons had a crazy vertical, but it he a showman? That is usually the thing that puts someone over the top.
Toppin has been looking forward to this event, as evidenced by this mini-contest against former teammate Dennis Smith Jr. before Smith was traded to the Detroit Pistons.