NBA All-Star Game Preview & Expert Betting Advice

NBA All Stars

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 17, 2018 5:46 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 5:46 PM GMT

The NBA rolls out a new All-Star Game format Sunday. For the first time since 1951, it is not East vs. West, rather Team LeBron against Team Stephen. How should bettors respond to the changes? Our thoughts, picks, and preview here.

Team LeBron vs Team Stephen

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Free NBA Pick: Over 340Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes New Format, No More West Chalk

The NBA rolls out a major revamp to the All-Star Game format Sunday after a string of dull years and weak competition. The new system is a playground-style draft where the leading vote-getter form each conference serves as captain. They select the top 24 players (12 from each conference) voted in by fans. Head coaches then fill in the benches with 14 reserve spots. Teams are also playing for local charities, and players receive double the payouts ($100,000), the league hoping it adds incentives for each side to win the game.

For bettors, this is great news in theory. It makes the game potentially more exciting and less predictive. The West, chock-full of the league’s strongest teams, dominated the event the last few years, going 6-1 SU in the last seven overall. It also tipped off favorites in all but one. Whether fans see increased competition is farfetched. The game has devolved into a defenseless dunk and 3-pointer fest in part to the weekend’s emphasis on entertainment.

Team LeBron (James) is a 3-point favorite to top Team Stephen (Curry) after opening at -1.5 on the oddsboard. James (Cavaliers) is joined by former teammate Kyrie Irving (Celtics), Kevin Durant (Warriors), and Anthony Davis (Pelicans) in the starting lineup. Coach Dwane Casey (Raptors) will select the final spot for the injured DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans). Curry’s crew first-team crew consists of James Harden (Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), and Joel Embiid (76ers).

‘Over’ Domination

A lack of defense and competition has allowed the score to skyrocket in recent years. Prior to 2013, the most points put up by a single team in the All-Star game was 155, aided by double-overtime in 2003. Last year, the West topped the East 192-182, a whopping 374 final tally shattering an all-time record form most combined. The winning team the last four years, in fact, has put up 160 or more in each. To get a sense of seismic shift, the ‘over/under’ in 2010 closed at 262 points. Oddsmakers opened the current event at 359, the number adjusting to 340.5 across most online sportsbooks roughly 24 hours from tip. Is the movement going the right way? The ‘over’ is 8-1 in the last nine events.


There are a slew of proposition bets offered at different shops for the All-Star game, including the total number of dunks, furthest 3-pointer, and even the type of greeting LeBron and Curry exchange before tip. The most popular of all, is the traditional MVP award. Here are the top 10 choices over at 5Dimes as of Saturday:

Player Team Odds
LeBron James, CLE LeBron 375
Russell Westbrook, OKC LeBron 500
Stephen Curry, GSW Stephen 550
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL Stephen 625
Anthony Davis, NOP LeBron 850
James Harden, HOU Stephen 850
Kevin Durant, GSW LeBron 1100
Kyrie Irving, BOS LeBron 1400
Paul George, OKC LeBron 1800

There are several factors to consider when handicapping for betting value here beyond stat-based analysis. There are a handful of players that have nabbed the award in the past, including Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul. Repeating as MVP is rare. Russell Westbrook and LeBron are the only players to receive honors twice among this field. Kobe Bryant was the last player to win MVP three times or more, but he actively sought the award. Motivation is key.

One of the league’s younger stars may be compelled to use the event as a coming-out party to show off their talents. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid immediately come to mind. Its doubtful the vets will allow this. There are too many ripe to use the stage to make a statement. James Harden is the perfect candidate. Playing in his hometown, the league’s leading scorer can use the honors to further bolster his league MVP chances nearly two years in the making. At +850 odds, there is value.

Game Pick

Entertainment, celebrity, and big productions are the focus of the NBA All-Star game over the last 15-25 years. How did the league showcase Shaquille O’Neal’s final All-Star game appearance? By having him dance to the Jabbawockeez of course:

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The current generation of players understands putting on a show is the top priority, not winning and competition. Ally-oops, little defense, and 3-point barrages are here to stay. Pick ‘over’ 340 points Sunday night.

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