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2013 All-Star Game Preview

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Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: West -3 & 291
 
Another expected offensive showcase will take place on Sunday night with the 62nd edition of the NBA All-Star Game at Toyota Center in Houston.
 
This will be the third All-Star Game in Houston, with the first game held in 1989 at the Astrodome and 2006 event at this same Toyota Center. A 21-year-old LeBron James won the MVP in that '06 game with 29 points, leading his East team to a 122-120 victory. His current teammate Dwyane Wade scored 20 points on 9-of-11 FG in that contest, making the game-winning layup with 16 seconds left in regulation. But a lot has changed in the past seven seasons, and the West roster is clearly the superior roster now, especially in terms of point guards Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, who should have their way with East point men Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving.

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The East's starting PG Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL. This game is all about scoring and the West has six 20-point scorers (Parker, Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, James Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge), while the East has just four (James, Wade, Irving and Carmelo Anthony). The West also has superior frontcourt talent on offense with Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan all scoring at least 16.3 PPG, compared to the East's low-scoring big men of Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah who all score 15.1 PPG or lower. And finally, don't forget to factor in the hometown MVP angle, where players from the host city have a tendency to get more shots and hoist the MVP trophy in front of his home fans.
 
Experience could be a huge factor in this game, as Harden is the only West player that will be making his All-Star debut, compared to six first-timers for the East squad: Chandler, Noah, Holiday, Irving, Paul George and Brook Lopez, who was named the replacement for Rajon Rondo. The All-Star teams combined for 301 points in Orlando last year, the third straight season where at least 280 points were scored in this exhibition.
 
Kobe Bryant is playing in a record 15th straight All-Star Game, a run that has included four MVP awards. In last year's 152-149 West win, Bryant broke Michael Jordan's NBA record for most career All-Star Game points, as Bryant poured in 27 points in 35 minutes of action. But it was teammate Kevin Durant who took home the MVP with 36 points (14-of-25 FG), seven rebounds and three steals. Chris Paul didn't shoot much in Orlando (8 points on 3-of-7 FG), but had 12 assists and just two turnovers. His Clippers teammate Blake Griffin finished with 22 points (9-of-12 FG) and eight rebounds. Russell Westbrook provided a spark off the bench for the West in last season's game with 21 points (10-of-17 FG) and five rebounds, all on the offensive glass. Although Tim Duncan (knee) returned to action on Wednesday, he is questionable to play in his 14th All-Star Game, especially with his cautious head coach Gregg Popovich leading the West in this game.
 
The East certainly has its work cut out, but showed great determination in last year's contest, cutting a 21-point deficit to one point in the final minute of its three-point defeat. LeBron James scored 36 points with seven assists and six boards in last year's game, while Wade produced a triple-double with 24 points (11-of-15 FG), 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra will actually start three of his players, with James, Wade and Chris Bosh replacing the injured Rondo in the starting lineup. However, Bosh had just seven points on 3-of-9 FG in last year's game. The East will certainly rely on Carmelo Anthony who leads the conference with 28.6 PPG this season. Anthony produced solid numbers in last year's game with 19 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) in his 30 minutes of action.

Starting C Kevin Garnett should log a good number of minutes on Sunday too, as he is likely playing in his 15th -- and final -- All-Star Game. He didn't play in last year's contest, but did take home the MVP in the 2003 event in Minnesota, scoring 37 points on 17-of-24 shooting. The only East reserve that has played in an All-Star game is Luol Deng, who saw a team-low six minutes in last year's loss, going 0-for-2 from the field.
 
 

  
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