The ripple effect from last season’s scorefest in the NBA All-Star Game has led to an astronomically high total for Sunday’s contest.
The Western Conference, whose lineup includes the likes of scoring leader Russell Westbrook, dangerous shooting guard James Harden as well as Kevin Durant, is listed as a five-point favorite against the Eastern Conference with a 348.5 total, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The West has won in five of the last six years.
Only one game has ever had 349 or more points, that being 2016 in Toronto, when the teams combined for 369. However, defense will be optional for everyone – not just Harden – on the floor at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Six of the top nine scorers in the league are on the West squad, including big men Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard – who are averaging at least 25 points per game.
The Eastern Conference all-stars boast LeBron James, second-leading scorer Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics and John Wall of the Washington Wizards. Kevin Love’s knee surgery also deprives the East of a stretch-five.
For NBA All-Star Saturday Night, there is a perception that Aaron Gordon is jumping unopposed in the Slam Dunk Contest since defending champion Zach LaVine is injured. Gordon, of the Orlando Magic, is listed as the -150 favorite on the Slam Dunk Contest odds and could get some sentimental support from the judges since he performed so well while challenging LaVine in 2016.
Phoenix Suns rookie Derrick Jones Jr. is a high flier with plenty of buzz, as evidenced by the fact his odds have come down to +120 from +150 over the past few days. Indiana Pacers swingman Glenn Robinson III (+750) and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (+1100) are long shots. In Jordan’s case, post players seldom fare well in the dunk contest.
The Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson is a +110 favorite to defend his title on the Three-Point Contest odds. No player has gone back-to-back since Jason Kapono in 2008, when the game was also in New Orleans. Among Thompson’s seven challengers, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (+400) is a past winner and the Houston Rockets’ Eric Gordon (+900) also offers a nice price, since he’s become a lethal three-point shooter for the analytics-minded Houston Rockets.
The Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry (+900) was not thought of as a perimeter threat before this season, but has added the three-ball to his arsenal. Whether Lowry could keep the consistent stroke needed to win remains to be the seen. The other shooters include the Portland Trail Blazers’ C.J. McCollum (+700), Los Angeles Lakers’ Nick Young (+900), Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker (+1200) and the Dallas Mavericks’ Wes Matthews.