NBA All-Star Weekend Guide

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Time to cheer: NBA All-Star Weekend 2013 takes place in Houston’s Toyota Center on 15th Feb – 17th Feb

As part of our free NBA picks we look to cover the highly anticipated and commercial NBA All-Star Weekend. This event is a three-day basketball festival that takes place every February and consists of a range of events, exhibitions and performances, climaxing in the NBA All-Star Game on the Sunday night. The 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend will be held at Houston’s Toyota Center from 15 February to 17 February, with the largest city in Texas hosting the 62nd edition of the NBA All-Star Game.

Have a look at some of the lines at our choice of NBA bookmakers.

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The Eastern Conference won the inaugural NBA All-Star Game in 1951, beating the Western Conference 111-94 in Boston. Local hero, Celtics centre Ed Macauley, picked up the Most Valuable Player Award for top scoring in the exhibition match with 20 points. The Eastern Conference leads the NBA All-Star Game series 36-25 but the Western Conference has won the last two matches, three of the last four and four of the last six. Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant was the star of the Western Conference’s 152-149 victory over the Eastern Conference in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.

Fans vote on the starters for the NBA All-Star Game, picking three frontcourt platers and two guards from each of the two conferences. This year is the first time that fans have been able to choose three frontcourt players instead of two forwards and a centre. And voting is not confined to North America, either. The explosion of the NBA (especially in Asia) encouraged the federation to develop websites in three languages – English, Chinese and Spanish – to facilitate international voting .

Current NBA coaches vote for the seven reserves for their respective conferences, although they are not allowed to select players from their own team for obvious reason.

The NBA All-Star Game takes place under normal NBA rules but there are some differences from a competition match. For example, since fans pick the starters, sometimes players have to play slightly out of position. A good example of this is the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in which fans picked shooting guards Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady and one of them – Bryant – had to move to the point guard spot.

Bryant The Most Popular All-Star

The 2013 NBA All-Star Game rosters were announced in January and, as they do every year, dominated basketball talk for a number of days. Bryant (1,591,427) received the most votes of any player and made the Western Conference starting side along with Durant (1,504,047), Chris Paul (929,155), Dwight Howard (922,070) and Blake Griffin (863,832). On the bench for the Western Conference will be LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, James Harden, David Lee, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Russell Westbrook, while Gregg Popovich will coach.

LeBron James (1,583,646) made the Eastern Conference top five ahead of Carmelo Anthony (1,460,950), Dwayne Wade (1,052,310), Rajon Rondo (924,180) and Kevin Garnett (553,222). Rondo has withdrawn because of injury so the Eastern Conference has eight reserves – Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Brook Lopez and Joakim Noah. Erik Spoelstra, the coach of NBA champion Miami, will call the plays.

Western Conference Should Be Favourite

The NBA All-Star Game is a lot of fun – it is famous for being high scoring because defence takes a back seat – but most professional punters give it a wide berth because the result, when all is said and done, does not really matter.

However, the NBA All-Star Game does sometimes present an opportunity for a pure value play, albeit a marginal one, because bookmakers set their lines purely based on the public perception of how match will pan out. This year, the Eastern Conference has opened up as the slight favourite.

Why is that? Well, the Eastern Conference has three players, including two starters, from the Heat and there is no bigger name in the world of basketball than King James. Also, Miami is the favourite to win the 2013 NBA title. Bookmakers have set their lines expecting big Eastern Conference support.

However, the Western Conference has won the last two NBA All-Star Games, three of the last four NBA championships and, also, provides three of the top four teams in the betting on this year’s NBA title. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Lakers may be having a disappointing campaign but that does not make Bryant and Howard bad players, while Houston’s Rockets are a Western Conference side so, if the spectators are going to barrack for one of the teams, it is odds on to be the side wearing the red-coloured uniforms.

The NBA All-Star Game is not a match on which to bet huge sums of money but the Western Conference deserves to be the favourite for the 2013 match so anything better than evens about the Paul-captained men in red is a decent play.

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