We are at the halfway stage of the NBA season and it is time for the mid-year showcase, the 2017 NBA All-Star game, pitting the might of the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference for bragging rights (8pm ET Sunday).
The West enters the 66th playing of this game as two-time defending champions, winning back-to-back contests behind two-time defending All-Star game MVP, Russell Westbrook. Given the season he is having, Westbrook could very well set the record with his third win in a row.
He leads a Western Conference roster which is absolutely stacked, featuring four members of the defending conference champion Golden State Warriors. Head coach Steve Kerr will also be in attendance as the West’s head coach this year. In fact, he has already publicly stated his intent to play all four members of the Warriors on the court at the same time. This will give the West some chemistry in addition to the overall talent level. The West has been the better conference for years, so it is no surprise that Kerr’s squad is favoured by six points on most of the top USA online betting sites.
The East is once again led by LeBron James of the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Familiar names will also be on the East’s roster. Kyrie Irving, winner of the MVP the last time the East won in 2014, and Carmelo Anthony, a 10-time participant, are part of a deep roster that will be coached by Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens. This may be one of the best teams the East has fielded in recent memory. Not to mention, New Orleans has been good to the East as the last time the conference won, the game took place in the Mardi Gras capital of the world.
So maybe there is a chance for this preview to pick the East for our concluding betting predictions. But there is no getting away from the fact that over the past 17 years the West has won the All-Star game 11 times, including five of the past six.
The East is led by a duo of Cavaliers and but beyond that, the roster is no joke. Making up the remaining three starters are DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks. Every one of those players ranks within the NBA’s top-15 in points per game, with DeRozan’s 27.3 the sixth best in the league and best among the East starters.
Ordinarily, this would make the East a ridiculous powerhouse but the problem is, this starting lineup does not even hold a candle to the one presented by the West.
Only two of the Golden State four are listed as starters but the two, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, are not only the best scorers but also two of the best players in the entire league, somehow managing to co-exist as high volume shooters on an incredibly deep roster. They will be backed up by a killer trio of James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Anthony Davis of the hometown New Orleans Pelicans, and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. When you look at the players the West has listed as reserves, one of whom is the NBA’s points per game leader, and the incredible talent coming off the bench, the conference’s starting five looks even more impressive by comparison.
The most notable absence from the West’s starting five is Westbrook. He’s a two-time defending All-Star game MVP, but beyond that the star of the Oklahoma City Thunder is putting together a season for the history books. In addition to leading the NBA in scoring, by over a point over the second place Isaiah Thomas, who is on the East’s bench this year, Westbrook also is ranked 12th in rebounds with 10.5 and third in assists with 10.1. That means he is averaging a triple-double. If Westbrook ends the year with those numbers, he would become the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to accomplish the feat.
One of the most entertaining angles is the idea that Westbrook and Durant could share the court for the first time since the two went their separate ways, when Durant left for the Thunder prior to this season. The Thunder and Warriors have met three times since then and most recently cameras even caught the two exchanging heated words in OKC. Needless to say there is no love lost between the two.
Westbrook could be heavily showcased on Sunday and if he is, the West has a clear path to winning their third in a row. He is unstoppable and even the East’s best defenders will be no match. No one has been this season.
Our Preview’s NBA All-Star Game Picks & Betting Predictions
The competition is about to be at a level it only sees this one time a year. Just look at the numbers. The over/under is listed with some of the bookies at 348pts and that’s not even really that high by All-Star Game standards. Last year saw 369pts scored, which was a record high.
- The rosters are stacked and really speak for themselves. This game could even top last year with how offensively loaded both teams are. Take the over 346.5pts @ -117 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is over 348pts for -110 with Bookmaker.
- As for the six-point spread favoring the West, take the two-time defending champs to cover that margin in their third consecutive victory at the NBA All-Star game. Bet on West -6pts @ -110 with either BetOnline or Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.