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NBA-All Star Weekend 2019-Charlotte –Team Giannis vs Team LeBron game preview


Anthony Davis isn’t completely sure if he’s going to play in Sunday’s All-Star game. He doesn’t know how much the New Orleans Pelicans will have him play the rest of this season. Or where he’ll play next season. Or where he’ll play the season after that, either.

So Davis, obviously, has a lot of questions.

At All-Star media day, he also had some answers.

Yes, Davis wants to keep playing through the end of the season with New Orleans. No, he didn’t eliminate Boston from the list of cities where he would consider playing. Yes, he will test the free agent market in the summer of 2020. And above all else, big market or small market, he insists that having a chance to win is all that matters going forward.

‘It’s time to go play ball,’ Davis said. ‘That’s what I’m trying to do.’

Davis – provided a shoulder strain doesn’t keep him out – will finally be LeBron James’ teammate Sunday night, when Team LeBron takes on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Team Giannis in the All-Star Game. The league’s annual showcase exhibition always comes with subplots, and this year, the one where Davis just asked for a trade that didn’t come seemed to generate more All-Star weekend buzz than anything else.

‘I’m just keeping it real, to be honest,’ Davis said while talking with reporters. ‘I knew that’s all you guys wanted to talk about. I just stated how I feel, I stated my intentions and I go on from there.’

Davis confirmed that there was a list of teams on his preferred get-traded-to list – James’ Los Angeles Lakers, along with the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.

He also denied that the Celtics were not on his list, news sure to delight fans in Boston and not the rest of the Eastern Conference.

‘They are on my list,’ Davis said.

The Lakers unsuccessfully tried to acquire Davis, and the Pelicans aren’t exactly sure what happens now. They fired general manager Dell Demps on Friday and replaced him on an interim basis with Danny Ferry, a move that Davis said caught him by surprise but also doesn’t change his thinking that a change of scenery is needed. It’s been argued that the Pelicans might be best served not playing Davis, though the NBA – which has already fined the 2017 All-Star MVP for saying he wanted a trade – would surely come down hard if they sat him for no reason.

‘It’s about the best situation for me, the best fit for me,’ Davis said. ‘When the time comes, obviously, I have to re-evaluate my situation and see what market best fits me and go from there.’

Here’s some more of what to know about the All-Star game:

DIRK AND DWYANE

Neither Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki nor Miami’s Dwyane Wade expects to play a lot in the game, which they got invited to by Commissioner Adam Silver to commemorate their NBA careers. Nowitzki is in his 21st season, all with the Mavericks, and hasn’t officially said he’s retiring. Wade is retiring after 16 seasons, most of them with the Heat.

‘I’m getting old,’ Nowitzki said. ‘This doesn’t get old. This is great to be here. Just enjoying the stage one more time.’

Wade had his son Zaire on the floor for some of practice on Saturday, as father-and-son were throwing lobs to each other.

‘He has the same dream,’ Wade said, ‘to one day be sitting up on this podium.’

CLOSE GAME?

LeBron James is hoping for a close game Sunday.

James was one of the players who decided enough was enough when it came to All-Star teams flirting with scoring 200 points, and wanted to find ways to make the game more competitive. It still doesn’t – and won’t – have playoff intensity, but last year’s game was played at a higher level than any All-Star Game had in years, a 148-145 final, and James wants that to continue.

‘I know we all saw the way the game was last year, and we’re going to try to top it,’ James said. ‘Hopefully, it can come down to the wire, like it did last year, but we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.’

NEW CAPTAIN

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is relishing his first time as an All-Star captain.

‘I’m comfortable on this stage,’ Antetokounmpo said during media day.

That doesn’t mean he’s taking this lightly.

Antetokounmpo, who has led the Bucks to the NBA’s best record so far this season and is an MVP frontrunner, says the captaincy – and the mere mention of a team being called Team Giannis – is humbling.

‘If you told me that six years ago … I would have never, never, never thought I would be in this position right now,’ Antetokounmpo said.

MVP PUSH

Charlotte’s Kemba Walker will have the home crowd on his side Sunday night. And while Walker says he hasn’t given much thought to making an All-Star Game MVP push, many of his fellow All-Stars wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hornets’ guard take a swing at winning that award.

‘Kemba is different,’ said Houston’s James Harden, the NBA scoring leader and last season’s MVP. ‘The way he’s so crafty, his ball-handling, his shot-making ability. He’s been playing at a high level. One of the top players, definitely, as far as playing for the first half of the season, and he’s been doing it for some years now. Definitely one of those guys that gets overlooked.’

Team Giannis coach Mike Budenholzer, who will have Walker on his team Sunday, said he has a simple gameplan for the Hornets’ star.

‘Turn him loose,’ Budenholzer said.

BACK AGAIN

The All-Star MVPs from nine of the past 13 games will play Sunday. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis have all won it at least once. James won the award last year.

NBA-All Star Weekend 2019-Charlotte –Tatum , Harris and Diallo win saturday games challenges

 Boston’s Jayson Tatum got his gamewinner from midcourt. Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo went over Shaquille O’Neal to help win his trophy. And Brooklyn’s Joe Harris made all the shots at all the right times to deny Golden State’s Stephen Curry a storybook ending in his hometown.

Say this for All-Star Saturday Night: It had flair.

Tatum won the skills competition, Diallo put on a show for the league’s annual slam dunk title, and in easily the most anticipated part of the night Harris held off the Warriors’ shooting star for the win in the 3-point contest.

Harris made 12 straight shots in the final round and went a staggering 15 for 18 on moneyballs – the shots worth the most – to win the 3-point title. He finished with 26 of a possible 34 points in the final round, beating Curry by two. Sacramento’s Buddy Hield was third with 19 final-round points.

”Obviously, it’s incredible,” Harris said. ”Steph is the greatest shooter of all time. But, again, shooting off of the rack for a minute is not indicative of being a better shooter than Steph Curry. I don’t want anybody to get it twisted at all.”

And the runner-up left a winner, too.

Stephen Curry and his brother Seth Curry of the Portland Trail Blazers had a bet where the winner of the 3-point contest – they were both entrants – would have to pay for tickets for the family over the rest of their careers.

Seth Curry didn’t get out of the first round. He said that even though his brother didn’t win, he’d pay up.

”It stands. He got that 27 in Round One and that’s impressive,” Seth Curry said. ”He deserved to win the bet and I have to do what I got to do.”

Stephen Curry won the first round with 27 points, making his last 10 shots. Hield was second with 26 points, and Harris finished with 25 to grab the last spot in the finals. And in a weekend where the Curry family – Dell Curry is a former Charlotte star, Steph is a three-time NBA champion, Seth is in the league and mother Sonya beat them all by making an underhand half-court shot Friday – was celebrated, the trophy finish didn’t happen.

”I would have loved the storybook ending – Steph comes home and wins in his native Charlotte,” Stephen Curry said. ”That’s how I had it in my head anyway.”

Stephen Curry went a combined 37 for 50 in the two rounds, the best of anyone in the event. But Harris’ timely makes of the moneyballs put him over the top.

”It’s been an honor for me to be here, for me to participate in this weekend,” Harris said. ”And it’s certainly something that I’ll remember for a long time.”

Same goes for Tatum.

The night started with the skills challenge, and Tatum edged Atlanta rookie Trae Young in the final by making a shot from just past the midcourt stripe. Young was ahead of Tatum in the competition where players have to execute some passes, a layup and then a 3-pointer. So fearing that Young would make his 3 before Tatum could even get one off, he let it fly from about 50 feet.

”I didn’t want to give Trae a chance,” Tatum said. ”I honestly didn’t know I was going to hit the shot, but I had to give myself a chance and throw it up there. It worked out for the best.”

When the skills challenge and 3-point contest cleared the floor, that left the dunkers. The slam dunk contest field of four – New York’s Dennis Smith Jr., Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo, Charlotte’s Miles Bridges and Atlanta’s John Collins – was pared to Diallo and Smith for the final.

Diallo pulled off a dunk that will be talked about for years in the first round – dunking over Shaquille O’Neal, hanging on the rim by his elbow, then tearing open his jersey to reveal a ”Superman” shirt underneath. And his first dunk of the final round had the top of his head at basically rim level, putting him in control after Smith failed to make a dunk in his debut try of the final.

Smith leapfrogged Miami’s Dwyane Wade and took a lob from Stephen Curry to give himself a chance with his last dunk, getting a perfect score from the judges – and a round of boos from the crowd, many of whom weren’t that impressed.

That left Diallo as the night’s final participant. Diallo got rapper Quavo out of the crowd, put the ball in his hands, then grabbed it as he went airborne for the slam that sealed the title.

”Atmosphere was great,” Diallo said. ”Just came out and gave the crowd what it was looking for.”

NBA-All Star Weekend 2019-Charlotte –Kuzma wins MVP in the raising star game

When the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Boston’s Jayson Tatum get to the NBA All-Star Game and partake in what’s become the preferred run-and-fun style where defense is discouraged at virtually all costs, this much is clear.

They’ll be ready.

Dunks, layups, 3-pointers and little else. That was the playsheet for the Rising Stars game Friday night, one where Kuzma led all scorers with 35 points on the way to MVP honors and the U.S. team defeated the World squad 161-144 on the floor that the All-Stars will be using on Sunday night.

Tatum added 30 points for the U.S. The teams combined for 37 3-pointers, 55 dunks and shot a combined 12 free throws.

”Last year, the World team kicked our butts,” Kuzma said. ”They came in here and beat us by 30. A lot of us kind of remembered that.”

It was 31, actually – 155-124, not that it matters.

Tatum added 30 points in the game for first- and second-year players that was known for years as the Rookie Game. Atlanta’s Trae Young finished with 25 points and 10 assists, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox had 15 assists and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Everyone looked happy afterward.

The U.S. squad had a bit more reason to look that way.

”There’s a $25,000 bonus for winning the game,” Kuzma said. ”So that’s good.”

Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons led the World team with 28 points on 14 for 17s hooting. Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen had 21 points for the World squad, and Dallas’ Luka Doncic had 13 points and nine assists.

Both teams shot 55 percent. The difference was on 3s – the U.S. was 21 for 51, while the World was 16 for 52.

The mood from the outset was predictably light, even including the pregame speeches from U.S. coach Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and World coach Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.

”I want us to share the ball and not one guy dribble it 20 times and hoist something up – like Luka does with the Mavs,” Nowitzki said, laughing a bit at his own joke.

Irving’s message was succinct.

”Just have some fun,” Irving said. ”It’s OK to compete.”

Doncic talked Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton out of taking the opening tap for the World team, with the young Mavs star jumping against Fox instead of having either center handle the honors. Young was throwing an alley-oop lob to Atlanta teammate John Collins for a 360-degree dunk in one possession, then crossing over Josh Okogie in almost comical fashion on the next.

”We gotta play some defense,” Mitchell implored teammates at one point.

It was unclear if anyone ever actually listened to his plea.

There was one foul called in the entire first half, Markkanen getting whistled for it with 4:13 remaining until halftime. The first half saw 25 dunks and 20 3-pointers in 20 minutes – the sides played 10-minute quarters. Late in the half, Collins flashed a crossover dribble, then underhand-tossed a pass off the backboard to himself for a dunk that had players on both sides reacting in mock disbelief.

FORMAT

This was the fifth year of the U.S. vs. World format; the World now leads the all-time series, 3-2.

All 10 players on the World team hailed from a different nation, and four different continents were represented. And eight of the players in this year’s game were also in last year’s event – Mitchell, Collins, Tatum, Kuzma and Fox for the U.S.; Markkanen, Simmons and 2018 game MVP Bogdan Bogdanovic were repeaters for the World side.

NBA FEEL

Nowitzki and the World coaching staff from the Denver Nuggets largely stayed seated the whole game, while Irving worked the sideline like an actual NBA coach would – even running time-outs, working alongside the Milwaukee Bucks’ staff. Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and San Antonio’s Danny Green were at the game, and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns was courtside in a World jersey to represent for his Okogie, his Timberwolves teammate.

SOMBER MOMENT

A pregame moment of silence was held immediately before the Canadian and U.S. national anthems in honor of the victims of the shooting in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois earlier Friday.

NBA-All Star Weekend 2019-Charlotte –Team USA vs Team World game preview

Several of the game’s brightest young stars will go head-to-head at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte for the 2019 NBA Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. ET to headline the first day of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend on Friday. The game originated back in 1994 and switched to its current Team USA vs. Team World format back in 2015. In the four years since, Team World is 3-1. However, this year it’s Team USA that is a 2-point favorite with the total set at 296.5 in the latest 2019 NBA Rising Stars Challenge odds. But before you make your predictions, be sure to check out the 2019 NBA Rising Stars Challenge picks from proven NBA expert Mike Barner first.

A respected NBA Fantasy expert, both season-long and daily, Barner has seen his work appear in Sports Illustrated and on Yahoo, RotoWire and KFFL. He has also been featured on ESPN Radio. Barner digs deep into the data, examining team trends and projecting game outcomes. 

Barner’s expertise has been on full display lately: Over his past 38 NBA picks, Barner has cashed at a massive 74 percent win rate that has returned nearly $1,700 to $100 players. That payout doesn’t include the 6-1 parlay he nailed by hitting all three of his best bets for Monday. 

Now, he’s locked in on the 2019 Rising Stars Challenge as part of NBA All-Star Weekend. He has released a confident against-the-spread pick that’s only available at SportsLine.

For Friday’s 2019 Rising Stars game, Barner knows that Team USA’s big advantage will come in the backcourt. There is impressive offensive talent at guard with Donovan MitchellDe’Aaron Fox and Trae Young. Mitchell should provide the scoring punch since he averages 22.4 points, while Young and Fox will share responsibilities at point guard. 

That blend should be particularly interesting, with Young providing incredible range and the ability to create offense from anywhere off the dribble and Fox providing the slashing ability. Team World doesn’t have matching production in its backcourt and could have issues defending on the perimeter too. 

But just because Team USA features plenty of talent doesn’t mean it’ll cover the Team USA vs. Team World NBA Rising Stars spread.

For Team World on Friday night, one of the big advantages should be the returning experience of Lauri Markkanen, Ben Simmons and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

All three were on the Team World roster last season when they routed Team USA 155-121, and all three players made significant contributions. Simmons had 11 points and 13 assists, Markannen had 15 points and six rebounds and Bogdanovic hit seven 3-pointers and went off for 26 points off the bench.

Team World did a tremendous job of sharing the basketball in that game, assisting 45 of 64 made field goals and knocking down an astonishing 23 3-pointers in that game. Expect Team World to have the advantage from beyond the arc again and it could come in handy in what is always a high-scoring exhibition.

We can tell you Barner is leaning under, but his stronger pick is against the spread. He knows a hidden x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

So who wins Team USA vs. Team World at the 2019 NBA Rising Stars Challenge? 

NBA-All Star Weekend 2019-Charlotte –Friday betting odds

The 2019 NBA All-Star weekend takes place at the Spectrum Center from Charlotte, North Carolina between Friday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 17.

Bookies is offering up odds on the main events before the game on Friday and Saturday, which include the popular Slam Dunk Contest and the 3-Point Contest.

Friday, Feb. 15

2019 NBA All-Star Rising Stars Winner –
Team U.S. -135
Team World +115

2019 NBA All-Star Rising Stars MVP 
Ben Simmons (PHI) +400
Luka Doncic (DAL) +400
Donovan Mitchell (UTA) +900
Jayson Tatum (BOS) +900
Deandre Ayton (PHX) +1000
Kyle Kuzma (LAK) +1000
Bogdan Bogdanovic (SAC) +1200
De’Aaron Fox (SAC) +1200
Lauri Markkanen (CHI) +1200
OG Anunoby (TOR) +1200
Trae Young (ATL) +1400
Jaren Jackson Jr. (MEM) +2000
John Collins (ATL) +2000
Kevin Knox (NYK) +2000
Marvin Bagley III (SAC) +2000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC) +2000
Cedi Osman (CLE) +3300
Jarret Allen (BKN) +4000
Josh Okogie (MIN) +4000
Rodions Kurucs (BKN) +4000