The time has come for the NBA to take a break with its annual All-Star Weekend. This year’s festivities, which got underway on Friday with the Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge, are being held in Cleveland for the first time since 1997. On Sunday night, it will be time for the main event: the 71st annual NBA All-Star Game.
After a long stretch of action, the 2021-22 NBA season takes a pause for All-Star Weekend. Always one of the most exciting spots on the league’s calendar, All-Star Saturday Night — the pre-cursor to the All-Star Game — will once again feature a trio of star-studded events: the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest.
The night tipped off with the Skills Challenge, which featured three teams in the competition — Team Rooks (Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Josh Giddey), Team Cavs (Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley) and Team Antetokounmpo, which includes Giannis and his brothers Thanasis and Alex. In the end, it was Team Cavs who came away with the crown after Evan Mobley hit the team’s second attempt from half court to ice the victory.
The 3-Point Contest followed and included eight participants – Luke Kennard, Patty Mills, Fred VanVleet, Trae Young, Zach LaVine, Desmond Bane, CJ McCollum and Karl-Anthony Towns — facing off for this year’s shooting crown. Kennard, Towns and Young ultimately made it to the final round with the Timberwolves star emerging as the winner with a score of 29 in the final round.
Ending the night, as always, was the Slam Dunk Contest, which featured Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Obi Toppin and Jalen Green showcasing their skills and athleticism for the top honor. At the end of the night, it was Toppin who became the third Knicks player to win the honor.
This is the fifth straight year that LeBron has been a captain and the second straight year that it’s Team LeBron vs. Team Durant. After Team LeBron secured a comfortable 170-150 win last year in Atlanta, Team Durant will be out for some revenge — even if the rosters aren’t the same.
NBA All Star Game Format
A few years ago the league decided to go away from the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference matchup and the teams are now decided by a playground-style draft between two captains (the player in each conference with the most fan votes). This year that was LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and though the latter is not playing due to a knee injury, he still picked his team.
In addition, the format of the actual game has changed. The first three quarters will still be 12 minutes long, and the team that wins each quarter will be awarded a cash prize to go to charity. The fourth quarter, however, will be untimed and will use the Elam Ending.
Instead of playing to the final buzzer, the teams will play to a target score, which is determined by taking the leading team’s point total after three quarters and adding 24 points. For example, if Team LeBron is up 100-90 going into the fourth quarter, the winning score will be 124 points, and the first team to get there will win, regardless of how long it takes.
NBA All Star Game Prediction
This is the All-Star Game so both rosters are great, but you have to go with Team LeBron here. LeBron is arguably the best player of all-time, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are leading MVP candidates and DeMar DeRozan came into the break on a historic scoring run that even Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t match. They’re so stacked that Luka Doncic isn’t even in the starting lineup.