Preview and Chat: The All-Star Game

Darius Soriano —  February 20, 2011

The big game is finally here.

For one night it’s not about collective bargaining or who should have one the dunk contest or cheering the fact that both Celtics that made the three point contest final got beat by a role player. Actually, there’s always more time for that.

There is a game to play though, so all of that fades to background for now. The best in the world are suiting up and will go at it in an effort to entertain the fans and show off their tremendous skill.

Some things that I’m interested in seeing as the game plays out:

  • Will Kobe go for the MVP? #24 already has three trophies in his collection from the 2002, 2007, and 2009 contests. With the game at Staples and Kobe playing in his town, tonight offers as good a chance as any for him to grab a fourth. Sure, there are other fantastic players that will be gunning for the award. Lebron and Wade are always good choices and I actually anticipate a very good game from Durant as he continues his ascension as one of the best players in the league. But, the hometown players always seem to play very well in these games and with the Lakers not playing well coming into the break this game may serve as an opportunity for Kobe to reinforce the idea that he’s not quite ready to relinquish his grip on the league.
  • How much will the young players play? Westbrook, Love, and Griffin are all first timers. Typically, in these games the young guys cede their minutes to veterans that have a better feel for how these games go. In yesterday’s media session Pop said that he was already joking with the ASG rookies about how little they’d play. However, Griffin and Westbrook are two of the most exciting young players the NBA has to offer so I wonder if Pop will let these young thoroughbreds loose to get out in the open court and generate some highlights for the fans. Considering these guys offer up at least one ridiculous play a game, here’s hoping it happens.
  • Who will fill the PG void? Two of my favorite All-Star game point guards are Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. They’ve both had that uncanny ability to push the game forward and really set up their mates to get them going. But with neither here, someone else will need to fulfill my jones. Lucky for us all there is no shortage of great lead guards – Paul, Williams, Rose, and Rondo are widely considered the top four players at the position in the league – but I’m anxious to see if any of them show that special type of floor generalship that Nash and Kidd have brought to this game over the years. My guess is that Paul and Rondo will fill that role for their respective teams, but we’ll see.
  • Will it be a close game with a true crunch time and, if so, what will the lineups look like? With the best of the best available for the coaches to choose from, there are plenty of choices to play the most important minutes – or as Magic has always called it: winning time – but who will Greg Popovich and Doc Rivers call on? My best guesses are Paul, Kobe, Durant, Dirk, and Gasol for the West while Rose, Wade, Lebron, KG, and Howard represent the East. Obviously these coaches have a myriad of choices and more of their own players at their disposal (Manu and Timmy for Pop;  Rondo, Pierce and Allen for Doc) but I think these lineups offer these coaches their best chance to get both the stops they seek on one end and buckets on the other.
  • How will the players with some controversy surrounding them play? It’s been reported that Carmelo has met with both the Nets and Knicks in the past couple of days and that both teams remain hot on the trail of Anthony. Meanwhile, that same Ken Berger story also tells us that Deron Williams has told associates that he’d like to be a Knick when he becomes a free agent at the end of next season. With all of this news breaking yesterday, I’m quite interested in seeing if their games are affected at all. Odds are we won’t see any real difference in these guys and we’ll be treated to the same excellence we typically see. However, if it doesn’t play out that way you best believe they’ll be asked about whether or not it affected their play after the game. (Actually, you can probably bet on that whether or not they play well.)

In the end, there are many other angles to look when it comes to one of the most fun games of the year. These are just a few that are on my mind. What’s on yours? Let me know in the comments and enjoy the game.

Darius Soriano

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36 responses to Preview and Chat: The All-Star Game

  1. I am picking the East to win- 144-133. :)

  2. Personally, I’m kinda curious to see who the players will support to get the MVP. I think it is somewhat possible that the players could agree (west) to feed Griffin to get the home crowd going and give him a rookie game victory, a dunking championship, and an all-star MVP as a rookie… as at least some of them should understand that such hype is beneficial to them, especially with the lockout looming.

  3. Griffin will get his moments no doubt, I’m sure Kobe will have some fun feeding him the ball. In the end though, it has all the makings of another MVP night for 24. The recent losses have got to be causing him some annoyance and while Blake’s a hallmate, it’s still Kobe’s house.

  4. uh, is it just me, or is Staples Center actually cheering for KG, Pierce, Allen, Rondo, and Lebron? Way to be Hollywood, Staples Center.

  5. Zephid: Agreed, gross. Was nice to hear Pierce get booed yesterday – I even enjoyed people cheering for Ray, just to make the Pierce-boos more effective.

    For some reason I find myself really caring about this game, and rooting for the west. In fact: it almost feels like a Lakers-game. I guess it must be the sight of 289358 Celtics in the east, and Pau and Kobe in the west.

  6. 1st quarter: Kobe, baseline iso vs. Rose; studder step, ankle break, reverse dunk.

  7. The West looking really sharp early on.

  8. Look at the battle Ray vs Kobe – no fun and games there:D

  9. Haha and now Manu flops – this game is great! Ok, I’ll stop spamming now.

  10. Wow, seems like the west has got some momentum. I personally think that Kobe’s early on example of confidence helped the others step it up. Just sayin

    Lets see how Kobe does while having fun

  11. A Justin Bieber flashback in the middle of the All-Star Game?

    Jesus wept.

  12. it appeared to me kobe was taking that d wade matchup personally with a steal of him and several iso buckets. don’t think kobe hasn’t heard rumblings by some analysts that d wade has overtaken kobe as best 2 guard

  13. I love how Pop has ‘forgotten’ to put Duncan back in the game…

  14. The Black Mamba is putting on a show for sure tonight.

  15. I don’t like that smile between Ray and Pau – black swan Pau, think black swan!

  16. Durant is seriously starting to annoy me with his gunning.

  17. Although that’s likely because he’s Kobe closest competitor for MVP. Part of me is liking this mini-competition we’re seeing from the 2 West stars.

    This Eastern lineup has to be the most athletic starting All-Star lineup ever. Athletes like Rose, Lebron, Howard, and Stoudemire are all once in a generation.

    But what you’re seeing from the West is more team play. The true point guards (Paul, Williams) are showing the scoring PGs (Rose, Westbrook) what they lack in terms of running a team properly.

  18. Kobe with three highlight reel dunks, including that beautiful dunk with Lebron trailing and trying for the block.

    That little, “You might get me…next time.”, butt pat afterward was vintage.

    Really enjoying this so far.

  19. 4th quarter, and over

  20. Time to put in Kobe and Pau and close this game.

  21. Jesus, Lebron crosses the court in about two seconds…he’s such a freak.

    Not a winner however;)

  22. Kobe going a lil’ bit 2 hard for MVP/All Star Single Game scoring record n my opinion.

  23. The sight of an excited Garnett on the bench upsets me..

  24. This is a great game right now. LeBron is really showing his full game and Kobe has played great thus far. I’d have gone to Dirk rather than Melo if I was Coach Pop, though.

  25. Wow. Durant is a killer.

  26. Darius: Definitely, Melo has seemed about as interested as Howard.

    See how Lebron keeps deferring in the clutch btw?;)

    Great win for the Lakers! err I mean the west..

  27. Damn. Gonna be pissed if Durant steals this MVP from Kobe. The stage was set for Kobe, if he had just hit a couple down the stretch…

  28. anyone else also really wanted kobe to breske that record?

    too bad learn’s triple double will overshadow mamba’s mvp.

  29. Too bad LeBron’s typical, “Charge-Into-Everyone-On-Every-Play” strategy didn’t work this time.

  30. You gotta hand it to Lebron though, that 4th quarter was about as great a quarter that I’ve seen in an all-star game.

  31. I have a funny feeling Lebron will end up with the record for All-Star MVPs. Seems to bring it to another level each year.

    This was a great ASG. Had a little of everything. We saw beautiful PG play (“true” PG play from Williams and Paul, setting up the West with great passing and team play). We saw great individual 1-on-1 talent from the East. There was incredible athleticism, a breakneck pace, several MVP-worthy performances, and it even got competitive and serious near the end. Best of all, we got treated to some of Kobe’s greatest ASG highlights, including that instant classic dunk on Lebron and the pat on the back afterwards.

    As a Laker fan, watching the Eastern squad (even while rooting against them) was particularly exciting. Our guys are older and not particularly athletic anymore, so it was kind of nice for 1 night to see these incredible feats of athleticism from Rose, Lebron, Amare, and even Westbrook in the red. I’m truly struck by the fact that we’re probably at the NBA’s peak in terms of pure athleticism. Even a mid-game interview with Justin Bieber couldn’t ruin this night.

    After watching two Celtics come up short in the 3-point shootout, a truly innovative and memorable dunk contest, and Kevin McHale look completely out of place among the TNT crew with his painfully awkward sense of humor, this All-Star Game was just the perfect cap to a great weekend.

    Back to work on Tuesday.

  32. Hurray, Kobe the All-Star Game MVP, and he passed a lot of great players in doing it. This was an exciting game, all the way down to the last seconds.

  33. Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe if he didn’t gun for those records.

    Glad we are done with this without adding injury.

  34. SNEAK ATTACK!! Clippers with a mega offer for Melo!

    Kaman, Foye, Rasual Butler, Aminu, Minny’s First Rounder for Melo and Josh Smith!

    WTF!

  35. votes are in..chasing23 ranks tonight’s performance #5 all-time in allstar history http://chasing23.com/2011/02/the-10-greatest-nba-all-star-game-performances-ever/