There are no NBA games that count for about a week with the league on its All-Star break, but the actual All-Star Game is always entertaining and it takes place Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on TNT from Cleveland. Team LeBron James is a 5.5-point favorite over Team Kevin Durant.
NBA All-Star Game Analysis
Just a reminder that it’s an unusual format for the ASG. The first three quarters will start with 0-0 as the scoreline, with the score resetting after each. Every quarter will run for 12 minutes, and the winner of the first, second, and third round will be the All-Star team that scores the most points.
In the fourth quarter, they game clock is turned off and there is a Final Target Score. To determine the Final Target Score, it’s the cumulative score of the leading team in the first, second and third quarters with 24 points added – 24 points the former jersey number of late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. So, let’s say that Team LeBron totaled 100 points in the first three quarters and Team Durant 94. The Final Target Score in the fourth would be 124 and the first team there would win. Team LeBron would obviously only need the 24 points but Team Durant 30. The game will end with a made basket or a made free throw instead of with the clock running out.
The NBA switched to captains drafting their rosters for the All-Star Game ahead of the 2018 version. LeBron James has been one captain for all four – and has won all four. Last year, Team LeBron beat Team Durant 170-150 in Atlanta with Giannis Antetokounmpo named MVP. The Bucks star made all 16 shots (nine of them dunks) he attempted and had 35 points. Antetokounmpo picked up his first All-Star MVP in a game in which he became the first player in NBA history to shoot 100% from the field on 10 or more shots.
Giannis was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in 2021 and was again this year in a row by Team LeBron. Golden State’s Steph Curry was LeBron’s No. 2 pick last year – he had 32 points – and was LeBron’s No. 2 this year. Also starting with LeBron, Giannis and Curry is Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Jokic.
James is set to play in his 18th All-Star Game, which will tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA record, and make his record 18th All-Star Game start (every season since 2004-05). At 20 years old, LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets) is set to become the fourth-youngest player to play in the All-Star Game.Durant is injured so he won’t play. His first choice was Joel Embiid, and the Team Durant starters alongside Embiid will be Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins.
James Harden will also miss the All-Star Game due to injury, replaced by Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen. Phoenix’s Chris Paul hurt his hand on Wednesday so he’s in doubt. Chicago’s Zach LaVine has been cleared medically to participate in All-Star festivities this weekend. LaVine got the OK after having his left knee drained and a lubricant injected in Los Angeles, coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday. He can resume activities after about 48 hours. LaVine was selected for his second All-Star Game when the reserves were announced Feb. 3. He also is scheduled to participate in the 3-point contest.
This weekend marks the third time Cleveland has hosted the NBA All-Star Game. Michael Jordan recorded the first triple-double in NBA All-Star Game history when he finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland.
A record four former NBA G League players are NBA All-Stars this season: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio Spurs) and Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors).
There are a record-tying four international All-Star Game starters: Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; ties to Nigeria), Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon), Jokic (Denver Nuggets; Serbia) and Wiggins (Golden State Warriors; Canada). Two other international players were selected as All-Star reserves: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia) and Gobert (Jazz; France).
James could join Kobe and Bob Pettitt as the only players in NBA history to collect four All-Star MVPs. Antetokounmpo could join Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to win the All-Star MVP award in consecutive seasons.
The NBA will honor its 75th Anniversary Team in a special halftime ceremony. The 75 players include 11 active players, and six of those 11 are All-Stars this year. There are also seven first-timers among this crop of 27 All-Stars, who represent 19 of the league’s 30 teams and range from 20 to 37 years old.
- Team LeBron -5.5