|Team LeBron vs. Team Steph|
The All-Star break is taking place February 16-18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The players will probably enjoy the friendly confines of LA, most NBA stars have a home there. This year the Association decided to mix it up by having the leading vote-getter from each conference draft their team—Team LeBron versus Team Steph. I'm leaning toward Team LeBron, although Steph does have, James Harden, Giannis, Klay, Towns and Butler. But damn, LeBron, KD, AD, Russy, Kyrie and PG, that sounds scary and I haven't even named the other six—plus the reunions, Bron and Kyrie, Russ and KD.
Hopefully this new way of creating teams brings more intrigue. I don't expect this contest to become super intense, after all it's an exhibition game. I prefer not to see a two-time MVP lay down in the lane so someone can dunk. That type of play embodies the criticism of those who say the All-Star game has lost its way. NBA athletes can dunk over and around you in real-game situations. I'll always tune in for All-Star weekend. I'm a sucker for the three point contest and the annual pickup game. And, don't tell me that great dunk contests aren't awesome.
Earlier in the year I made conference predictions. The NBA All-Star break gives me a chance to rekindle those thoughts and reflect on my projections. In the East I missed on two teams. I thought the Hornets and Pistons would make the playoffs, and they still might. Thus far, those teams are on the outside looking in, my apologies to the Pacers and 76ers. Detroit landed Blake Griffin and is currently the first team out, we'll see how he impacts the standings. Indiana plays hard, appears to be legit and Oladipo looks amazing. Philadelphia has the talent, they could use a perimeter scorer/creator. Simmons looks like a star, if he develops a respectable jumper, yikes. For my take on Cleveland's trade deadline moves click here.
The Western Conference is shaping up to be what most expected. I'm still pulling for the Jazz and Clippers. For a brief stint, Utah was again being robbed by injury. They definitely defend and are superbly coached. The Jazz have shown an ability to string wins together during late January and into February—they're hot. Donovan Mitchell is a breath of fresh air, he could literally fly in and snatch R.O.Y. He and Gobert appear to be the building blocks of Utah's future. The Clippers are currently the first team out. It's probably safe to say that Portland and Denver will make the postseason, it's New Orleans that could slide out of the playoffs due to Cousins' injury.
This year's All Star Game will showcase the embarrassment of talent the NBA currently possesses, hopefully they show a little intensity as well, it could happen. Look no further than Giannis and Westbrook, my picks for AS MVP, they're über competitive and on opposing squads. I'm excited to see how the season shakes out.
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