71st NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, OH

71st NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, OH

Photo Via Creative Commons

Matt Mariani, Editor-In-Chief

The 71st NBA All-Star game will take place in Cleveland on February 20th, with Team LeBron playing Team Durant. The weekend kicks off on Friday, with the Celebrity Game at 7pm and the Rising Stars game at 9pm. On Saturday the NBA All-Star practice is at 11am, followed by the Skills Challenge, 3-point contest, and Slam Dunk contest all starting at 8pm on TNT. Then on Sunday, the All-Star game begins at 8pm. 

First off on Friday night, the Rising Stars game, which features 12 first-year players, 12 second-year players, and 4 players from the G-league Ignite. There will be 4 teams containing 7 players each, playing in a mini tournament. There will be 2 semifinal games, playing to 50 and then a final game containing the winners. The target score for the final will be 25. The games are highlighted by young stars like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Cade Cunningham, and Cole Anthony.  

Starting off the Saturday night competitions, the Skills Challenge which will feature a new format, now with teams. The three teams include 3 players, all with a similar theme. There’s the hometown Cavs, featuring Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley. Then the Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis, Alex, and Thansis. Finally, the Rooks with Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, and Josh Giddey. In the competition there are 4 rounds, shooting, passing, relay, and the final round is half-court shot with the final 2 teams. Whichever team hits the half-court shot first, wins the Skills Challenge. 

Next up, the 3-Point Contest, featuring 8 of the best shooters in the league. We have Desmond Bane, Luke Kennard, Zach LaVine, CJ McCollum, Trae Young, Fred VanVleet, Patty Mills, and big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The contest will once again feature the “Dew Zone”, which is two deep shots 6 feet behind each wing, worth 3 points if made. Other than this, there are 5 spots with 5 balls each worth 1 point, and one of these balls being the “moneyball” worth 2. One rack will be all moneyball’s worth 2 points each. Each player will have 70 seconds to shoot as many balls and the top 3 scorers will move onto the final round. 

To wrap up the All-Star Saturday night, the highly anticipated Slam Dunk contest. The contest features Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Obi Toppin, and rookie Jalen Green. Each contestant will get 2 dunks in the first round, and the 2 with the highest combined scores will advance to the final round. The two finalists will then get another 2 dunks to prove to the judges why they should win. Each player will get three attempts at each dunk and the dunks will be graded from 6-10, with a high score of 50 and low of 30. 

Finally the main event, the All-Star game, Sunday night at 8pm. On February 10th, team captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant drafted their teams for the game. Team LeBron’s starting lineup features Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Demar DeRozan, Nikola Jokic, and of course LeBron James. Team Durant’s starting lineup features Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Andrew Wiggins, and Trae Young. Kevin Durant will not play due to injury and LaMelo Ball will take his place.  The winning team’s player share is $100,000 and the losing is $25,000. This helps to make the game more competitive and enjoyable for everyone.