The professional basketball world will make Ohio its capital this weekend.
The NBA brings its three-day All-Star extravaganza to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland with its traditional slate of events including the 71st annual NBA All-Star Game and the popular 3-point and Slam Dunk contests.
It will be the first time Cleveland has hosted the All-Star Game since 1997. That year is best known for a young Los Angeles Lakers rookie, Kobe Bryant, winning the Slam Dunk title.
The Cavaliers are represented in the festivities. Team Cavs, consisting of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley, will join forces for the Skills Challenge Saturday night.
Team LeBron (named for team captain LeBron James, himself an Ohio native) selected Garland to play in the All-Star Game.
Legal sports betting in Ohio is still almost a full year away, but it’s expected to launch early in 2023.
What do the oddsmakers say?
The NBA shifted from an Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format starting with the 2018 game. The top two vote-getters for All-Star ballots are named team captains and get to pick their teams in a draft.
This year it’s Team LeBron against Team Durant (named for Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant). This will be the fifth year in a row James is a team captain, and Team LeBron is 4-0.
Perhaps that’s why FanDuel Sportsbook has Team LeBron posted as 5.5-point favorites and the over/under set at 318.5. Remember, there isn’t a lot of defense played in the All-Star Game.
Who’s on Team LeBron?
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (captain)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
- DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
- Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
- James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
- Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
- Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
- Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Who’s on Team Durant?
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (captain) – injured and will not play
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
- Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
- Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
- LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
- Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
- Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
- Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
- Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
- Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
- Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors – injured and will not play
What’s the schedule?
On Friday, the NBA hosts the Celebrity Game (ESPN, 7 p.m.) and then the Rising Stars Game (TNT, 9 p.m.)
Saturday is the Skills Challenge (TNT, 8 p.m.) which includes the annual 3-point contest and Slam Dunk contest.
Sunday is the All-Star Game, which tips-off at 8 p.m. TNT coverage begins at 6 p.m.
Who is in the Slam Dunk contest?
There are four competitors in one of the marquee events of the NBA season. All four players get two dunks in the first round, with the top two moving on to the finals.
A panel of judges scores every dunk on a scale of 6-10. No Cavaliers player has ever won the dunk contest. Anfernee Simons (Portland Trail Blazers) won in 2021.
This year’s four competitors are:
- Cole Anthony (Orlando Magic)
- Juan Toscano-Anderson (Golden State Warriors)
- Obi Toppin (New York Knicks)
- Jalen Green (Houston Rockets)
Who is in the 3-point contest?
Defending champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors chose not to defend his title. Don’t worry, he’s on Team LeBron in the All-Star Game.
The format is the same as it has been with two players going head-to-head in a tournament style. The last Cavalier to win was Kyrie Irving in 2013.
The eight contestants are:
- CJ McCollum (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
- Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
- Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors)
- Luke Kennard (LA Clippers)
- Patty Mills (Brooklyn Nets)
Who’s in the Celebrity Game?
The Celebrity Game takes place at 7 p.m. on ESPN on Friday. It pits Team Walton, named for NBA legend/commentator Bill Walton, against Team ‘Nique, led by former Atlanta Hawks star Dominique Wilkins.
Team Walton features music stars Quavo and Machine Gun Kelly. Team ‘Nique includes Cleveland Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett and comedian Tiffany Haddish.
What happened the last time the All-Star Game was in Cleveland?
The East beat the West, 132-120, and Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets) was named MVP after setting an All-Star Game record with 20 points in the third quarter. He finished with 26.
Michael Jordan had the first triple-double in NBA All-Star Game history. Kobe Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest and current Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr won the 3-point contest.
High five: The last five All-Star Games
- 2021 – Team LeBron 170, Team Durant 150: Giannis Antetokounmpo was MVP after scoring 35 points.
- 2020 – Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155: It was the closest NBA All-Star Game since 2010. Kawhi Leonard was named MVP in Chicago after scoring 30 points.
- 2019 – Team LeBron 178, Team Giannis 164: Kevin Durant claimed the MVP award after a 31-point outburst.
- 2018 – Team LeBron 148, Team Stephen 145: James did it all, captaining a winning team for the first time and winning the game’s MVP award after scoring 29 points.
- 2017 – West 192, East 182: Down in New Orleans, Anthony Davis was named MVP after scoring a game record of 52 points.