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NBA All-Star Game 2018: TV Schedule, Odds, LeBron vs. Steph Rosters, Predictions

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 17, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - FEBRUARY 13:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hug after the game on February 13, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

The traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format has been scrapped for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.

This time around, leading vote-getters (and team captains) Stephen Curry and LeBron James picked their squads in a playground-style format from the pools of players selected to compete in this year's contests.

Therefore, it will be Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen on Sunday. Here's a look at the TV schedule, latest odds, rosters and predictions.

      

TV Schedule

The 67th NBA All-Star Game begins at 8 p.m. in the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. TNT will televise the event, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

            

Odds

Per Stephen Campbell of OddsShark, Team LeBron is a 3.5-point favorite, with an over/under total of 346 points.

        

Team LeBron Roster

Head Coach

Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors

             

Starters

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans#

                

Reserves

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat*

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons*

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder*

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets*

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers**

Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks**

John Wall, Washington Wizards**

                  

*injury replacement

**injured, will not play

#injured, replacement starter not announced

         

Team Stephen Roster

Head Coach

Mike D'Antoni (Houston Rockets)

                

Starters

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

James Harden, Houston Rockets

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

                            

Reserves

Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

               

Predictions

The NBA All-Star Game has always been a high-scoring affair, but in recent years, defense has become optional (or completely non-existent) as the game was treated as a glorified dunk and skills contest.

This trend was no more obvious than in 2016 and 2017, when the Western Conference scored 196 and 192 points, respectively, in high-scoring victories over the East.

The game sorely needed a revamp following that last contest, so the game moved to a new format. Furthermore, players have an added incentive to win, as the winners will each receive $100,000 (up from $50,000 last year). Losers won't go home too unhappy thanks to their $25,000 checks.

The logical response is whether players who have multi-million dollar contracts and endorsements would go hard for an extra $50,000. However, reaction to last year's All-Star Game was less than positive, and an extra $50,000 isn't an easily ignorable figure, even for millionaire players.

For his part, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal believes that the extra money will incentivize All-Stars to tighten up on defense, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

Chase Hughes @ChaseHughesNBCS

Bradley Beal on the $100,000 prize for players on the winning team in the All-Star Game: ‘I think there will be some defense played this year... put free money on the table and boys get hungry.’

Boston Celtics big man Al Horford also thinks that the game will be different this time around, per ESPN's Chris Haynes (h/t Scott Sargent of Bleacher Report): "I think guys will definitely take the game more seriously. In the last couple of years, the games haven't been good, and we're all aware of that...I think guys are going to come out and compete...we're going to be diving for loose balls out there."

Ultimately, the combination of pride and extra money should be enough to turn this game into a more competitive affair on both ends of the floor. It's hard to fathom this game taking a complete 180-degree turn (i.e. tough defense for 48 minutes and a game closer to an NBA norm of 200-plus total points rather than near 400), but expect better play this year.

As for the winner, Team LeBron looked to have the significant edge after the rosters were revealed in January. The reasons are numerous, but the fact that they had 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook coming off the bench is the biggest one.

Otherwise, it would have been hard for Team Steph to defend James, 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant and the monster New Orleans Pelicans frontcourt of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

However, Team LeBron players suffered a rash of serious injuries in the weeks leading up to the All-Star Game. Cousins and New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis suffered season-ending leg injuries, Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love suffered a broken hand and Washington Wizards point guard underwent a knee scope.

Their replacements are certainly talented in their own rights, but it's hard to consider Team LeBron a heavy favorite.

That being said, look for James' team to come away with a close victory. Any lineup that features James, Durant, Westbrook and Anthony Davis is going to be near-impossible to stop. Team Steph's reserves are deeper than Team LeBron's, and it's possible that could be the difference if Curry's squad ends up winning here.

However, the bet is on James' side to take the victory in what will prove to be a successful and lasting format change.

Score: Team LeBron 155, Team Curry 150

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