If you love high-scoring affairs with the game's best players executing highlight-reel plays with regularity, then the 2014 NBA All-Star Game is for you.
This year's event will take place in New Orleans, and the Big Easy seems ready to play host to the annual battle of East versus West. The East has lost three straight by five points or less, but there's a strong chance that this one will be even more lopsided. The West has simply too many weapons.
Before we really get into it, take a look at where to watch and at each respective roster.
When: Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|Kyrie Irving, G (Cavaliers)||Kobe Bryant, G (Lakers)#|
|Dwyane Wade, G (Heat)||Stephen Curry, G (Warriors)*|
|Carmelo Anthony, F (Knicks)||Kevin Durant, F (Thunder)|
|Paul George, F (Pacers)||Blake Griffin, F (Clippers)|
|LeBron James, F (Heat)||Kevin Love, F (Timberwolves)|
|DeMar DeRozan, G (Raptors)*||James Harden, G (Rockets)|
|Joe Johnson, G (Nets)||Damian Lillard, G (Trail Blazers)*|
|John Wall, G (Wizards)*||Tony Parker, G (Spurs)|
|Chris Bosh, F (Heat)||Chris Paul, G (Clippers)|
|Paul Millsap, F (Hawks)*||LaMarcus Aldridge, F (Trail Blazers)|
|Roy Hibbert, C (Pacers)||Anthony Davis, F (Pelicans)*|
|Joakim Noah, C (Bulls)||Dirk Nowitzki, F (Mavericks)|
|Dwight Howard, C (Rockets)||Dwight Howard, C (Rockets)|
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
# = Injured and will not participate. * = First-time Selection. Courtesy of NBA.com
The East's roster is headlined by LeBron James—the game's best player—as well as Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving and Paul George—perhaps the best up-and-coming player in the NBA.
The West boasts a similarly strong collection of superstars in Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden and Dwight Howard. Durant is by far the game's best scorer, and James himself has said recently that Durant is unguardable (via SportsCenter's Twitter account):
LeBron James says he'll need help with the challenge of checking Kevin Durant. pic.twitter.com/f4lt98vtPo— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 29, 2014
If nobody can guard Durant in the contest, then expect him to go off for at least 30 points. Maybe more. With the sometimes questionable defense played in the first three quarters of the contest, Durant might have 30 by halftime.
The real advantage for the West comes in their other players, though.
Stephen Curry isn't a superstar just yet, but he's well on his way to becoming one. If the East plays traditionally soft defense early on, then Curry will be converting on more than one occasion from deep. He's the game's best three-point shooter, and he'll put that on display in this one.
Chris Paul and Damian Lillard are both quality scorers, as well as facilitators, coming off the bench. Lillard is one of the best young players in the Association, and he'll be taking part in all five events during the NBA's All-Star Weekend.
Via Sam Amick of USA Today's Twitter account:
Lillard:"I'm capable of doing all the things that need to be done in all the competitions,so I figured why not?"- http://t.co/37WhBGBtrm— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 6, 2014
Lillard is certainly versatile enough to compete in all five events, culminating in the All-Star contest itself. He'll be a weapon off the bench for the West.
The biggest advantage the West has over the East is one man—Anthony Davis.
Replacing Kobe Bryant on the team's roster, look for Davis to get quality minutes playing in front of his hometown fans in the Big Easy. He'll receive a warm welcome from the crowd, and they'll be looking for him to play big minutes and make plays with regularity.
Davis is a quality player in the post and above the rim, but it's his defense that really stands out. In a game where offense comes first, it will be his defense that dictates how many easy buckets the East gets in the paint.
Even though he's a reserve, the West will take advantage of his length and play him at least 20 minutes in the game. Davis is a weapon that must be used.
Will the West make it four in a row?
With Davis blocking shots down low, the West can get their run-and-gun offense moving. Points in transition always play a part in the All-Star Game, and blocking shots are often the best way to get those plays started.
Paul, Curry, Griffin and Tony Parker all excel in that type of game, and there will be several highlight-reel plays involving these guys if Davis and company can start plays by blocking shots down low.
There's a reason the West has won the past three contests. Even though the East has the game's best player in James, the West has the game's best collection of stars. Look for this game to be all Western Conference, 162-148.
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