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.