The Western Conference is the gold standard in the NBA, and usually the right basketball pick at the All-Star Game. Is anything different this Sunday in the Big Easy?
While the other major sports leagues continue to botch their versions of the All-Star Game, the NBA just keeps rolling along. Granted, they don't always get the rest of the weekend's events right, but the main event is always entertaining. You get to see all the streetball stuff from the league's biggest stars – and these days, you usually see the Western Conference win. The West has taken down five of the last six All-Star Games, and 11 of 16 since the 1999 lockout.
But should you auto-bet the West with your NBA picks for Sunday's game (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) at the Squishee King Center in New Orleans? Maybe. Let's dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind the NBA All-Star Game lines.
Putting the West in Westbrook
First of all, make no mistake: People love betting on this game. There isn't much else going on that Sunday. And the All-Star Game has gotten more competitive in recent years, even while the scores have been climbing into the stratosphere. Last year's game in Toronto was a dandy: The West prevailed 196-173, cashing in as 5.5-point favorites on the NBA odds board and blowing out the 318.5-point total. Yes, 318.5 points. That's cray-cray.
As we go to press, we're still waiting for the first lines for Sunday's game to come out; there might be a few tweaks to the rosters here and there, depending on injuries. But there's no question the West has more talent on the hoof. They've got the league's Top 2 players according to Box Plus/Minus: Russell Westbrook (+13.9 BPM) and James Harden (+10.0 BPM). Westbrook has won the All-Star Game MVP award two years running, by the way. He wants this.
The East has the next two big guns according to BPM: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+8.2 BPM) and LeBron James (+8.1 BPM). But then it's a string of Western superstars: Kawhi Leonard (+7.9 BPM), Kevin Durant (+7.9 BPM), DeMarcus Cousins (+7.0 BPM) and Stephen Curry (+6.5 BPM). Yowza. This is why the West is still the best – and a highly profitable 7-2-1 ATS over the last 10 years. Unless the odds come out funny, I'm sure as hell not going to bet against them on Sunday.