Team LeBron, the winner of this season’s NBA All-Star game, led by LeBron James, configured differently this season in an effort to increase television viewership and insert some supposed excitement into professional basketball’s stage showcase of their most talented players, defeated Team Stephen, led by Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry.
It resembled more of a schoolyard pickup game with whoever had next choosing their squad of players. James’ first pick was Kevin Durant, a Western Conference player. This commingling of east and west players now completely eliminates speculation of who may win the NBA Finals.
Except for the Kevin Hart moments and Fergie’s performance, the game was exciting. It was reported that Fergie’s performance was so bad that Colin Kaepernick stood up, but just to see who was singing.
Before this season, the Western Conference had won the last seven out of 10 All-Star games. Three consecutive from 2015. There’s no real definable trend, but the Warriors have won the NBA Championship the last two out of three years.
Can Golden State repeat? Will the challenge from the highly improved Houston Rockets currently in first place with both James Harden and Chris Paul in their backcourt overtake the Warriors and unseat their reign of dominance? But remember, in last year’s playoffs, Harden was a no-show. The MVP candidate underachieved.
And then, there are the Spurs at three who used to be contenders and will be a major threat once Kawhi Leonard returns.
In the east, the Toronto Raptors are currently seeded at one. They have not proved to be a team able to go into the deeper playoff rounds. With them it’s wait and see.
The Boston Celtics fell from the top to second spot because of their .500 record in the past 10 games. They go back tonight (Thursday) to work things out.
“I’m just interested to see how we respond,” said Kyrie Irving after losing to the Cavaliers, his former team, last Sunday before the break.
James, the MVP, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were nearly written off, expected to tumble south in the Eastern Conference until their front office people pulled off a blockbuster trade that sent Isaiah Thomas and Joe Crowder, two key players, to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz in the offseason Boston deal in exchange for Irving. In return, the Cavs received Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers, Rodney Hood from Utah and George Hill from Sacramento.
The east is filled out by the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, but the power this season is with the top three seeds.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma Thunder, the Denver Nuggets, the Portland Trailblazers and the New Orleans Pelicans round out seeds five through eight. The L.A. Clippers and the Detroit Pistons are potential spoilers. They each could upset the eighth seed teams.