The NBA All-Star Game is back in its traditional format. Here’s our best betting advice for this very anticipated game, with the best betting odds.
- East +2.5 (-110) at Bet365
Sunday, February 18, 2024 – 08:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
The NBA All-Star Game is returning to its traditional format.
Previously, we had a playground-like setup where the captain of each team selected the members of its squad. This year, roster selection was more democratic.
Fans, coaches and media members voted for the starting lineups, with the fan vote being weighed at 50% and the coach and media votes both being weighed at 25%. The coaches voted for the reserves.
Commissioner Adam Silver is responsible for choosing replacements when necessary, and it has been necessary for two East players.
The starters for each side have been determined, with the exception that it’s not set in stone who will play in place of the injured 76ers center Joel Embiid.
For the West, we have in the starting lineup:
The East’s starters are:
As someone who can play the center position, Paolo Banchero would make great sense in Embiid’s place.
This is a good spot to talk about why the top sportsbooks have the West favored.
Even the most casual NBA fan will recognize that the West, currently favored at -2.5, has greater star power. Based on regular-season success, one could make the argument that the West has four of the top six players with perennial MVP candidates in Durant, Jokic and Doncic, plus the GOAT candidate LeBron.
Outside of Giannis and Tatum, the East’s stars aren’t quite as recognizable or well-acclaimed as the West’s.
I will argue, however, that, precisely because of the West’s star power, the East ML should be your best bet for the game. I will also make a case for the “under” based on recent history.
Doncic and Jokic
These two players help explain why the West is favored.
Let’s be completely upfront with ourselves: these two players are certainly going to be two of the three best players on the court. Doncic is a regular All-NBA First-Team selection. Trumping Doncic, Jokic is the reigning MVP.
I emphasize these regular season accolades because I have a theory, supported by All-Star Game statistics, that the best regular season players are less motivated to perform well in the All-Star Game because they feel like they have less to prove and because their stardom makes them less excited about the All-Star Game stage they are playing on.
This means that, if this were somehow a regular season game, then the West would obviously be a good play. But the point is that this is the All-Star Game, where motivation counts to a unique extent because these teams are not playing for standings and playoff contention.
Nikola Jokic’s Press Conference
Nikola Jokic said something telling in his press conference at last year’s All-Star Game. He is so unmotivated for this annual game that he bluntly revealed his attitude toward it: “I would not draft myself either. I’m not meant for this game.”
Jokic’s quote came in the context of a reporter asking him why he failed to connect with Kyrie Irving on two different alley-oops.
His performance level overall is not remotely as high in All-Star Games as it is in the regular season. There is no reason to expect why his motivation – or his performance level – would improve in this year’s game.
Jokic and Doncic Statistical History
After all, Jokic’s All-Star Game disappointments are a yearly thing. Last year, he scored four points. In the All-Star Game two years ago, he scored ten points, being outscored by four of his teammates alone.
Luka’s All-Star Game history is similarly disappointing. Last year, he mustered four points after scoring eight points in the previous year.
These stats show that the biggest reasons for the West being favored are also the biggest reasons why betting on the West is a bad move.
The East’s Motivation
Whereas we have seasoned superstars on the West, we have highly capable yet less proven players on the East.
Tyrese Haliburton and Damian Lillard will be making their first All-Star Game starts. Both guys are motivated to do well in this game: Haliburton converted seven of nine field goals last year, and Lillard scored 26 points.
Tatum likes to bring his best game: he scored 55 points last year.
These players will be excited and motivated especially because the All-Star Game setting is new to them, and they get to play with the biggest names.
Oddsmakers have the over/under set at 364.5. This total seems unjustifiably high. It seems to me that bookmakers are simply counting on bettors to invest in the “over” blindly. Playing the “over” does tend to be an automatic decision for bettors investing in this game.
But the support is lacking for such a high number. 364 points have not been exceeded in an All-Star Game since 2017, which was an exceptional year.
Because the total speaks to the motivation of both sides – these players will not produce the collective tempo and effort required to attain such a high overall point total – I do prefer the side because I see the East bringing more effort than the West and being, therefore, a great underdog play.
*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.