The Western Conference has won the last three NBA All-Star games and five of the last seven. Don't expect that trend to end this year.
While the Eastern Conference is loaded with talented players—LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, to name a few—the starting lineup doesn't have a single player taller than 6'9". Contrast that to the Western Conference, which has three players taller than that in Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant (who is listed at 6'9" but appears to be closer to 7'0").
And that isn't even taking into consideration players like Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki and Anthony Davis coming off the bench. The West is going to absolutely dominate this game in the paint.
The West also has the game's hottest player in Durant, who currently leads the NBA with 31.5 points per game, 4.2 more points per contest than Carmelo Anthony, the league's No. 2 scorer, is posting this season. His efficiency rating of 30.99 also leads the league, making him the front-runner for the regular-season MVP award at this point, even ahead of James.
And showing up in a big way on the All-Star stage would be nothing new for Durant—he was the game's MVP in 2012.
D.J. Foster of Pro Basketball Talk has more on why the West should win:
Western Conference. It’s been by far the superior conference during the real games, and the East likely being down Dwyane Wade won’t help. The East has a lot of good players that don’t necessarily translate all that well to the All-Star style (Hibbert, Noah), and the West is far more balanced with scorers like Durant and [Steph] Curry in addition to table setters like Chris Paul.
James and Anthony make for a tough tandem, but the West is deeper and more explosive. Here’s guessing the West makes it four straight over the East.
Sure, this game is just an exhibition, but that doesn't mean these guys don't want to win. While the West won't have the fiery Kobe Bryant urging it on, players like Durant are plenty competitive and will be looking to get the win.
Other players, like Davis, will have different motivations. Not only will Davis be looking for a strong showing in his first All Star appearance, he'll also be repping for his home fans in New Orleans, where the game is being hosted, as he told Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com:
The city of New Orleans is a great city, a great fan base, great support. To go out there Sunday and be able to play in front of friends and family, it’s going to be awesome. It feels great, especially to be able to do it here in the city of New Orleans. I can’t wait to go out there and play. I know the fans and the city are behind me, cheering me on, whether they’re in front of the TV, or in-arena. I’m very proud. This is a great city that I’m going to try to represent in the best way possible.
Look, predicting an exhibition like the NBA All-Star Game is always a tough call, since the game doesn't count and certain players could decide to give it their all while other players might be there just to enjoy themselves.
Which team wins?
But if I were a betting man, I'd go with the Western Conference. It's the stronger conference in regular-season play, it is stacked down low and Durant could easily score 30 in this game, just because. Look for the West to take this one.