NBA All-Star Betting Steals Sunday Stage

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by Sportsbook Advisor - 2/15/2009 4:09 PM Share

The best players of the NBA will again take center stage for the entertainment extravaganza known as the 2009 NBA All-Star Game from Phoenix on Sunday. Last season, the East defeated the West 134-128 with LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers garnering MVP honors. That was the second time in three years that he took home the trophy and with he and Kobe Bryant forming their own personal head-to-head dual, the MVP honor for '09 figures to come down to those two and which side wins the game. We're here to look at that prospect as well as to dig up some key handicapping information from past all-star games in order to help you if you choose to partake in this year's proceedings. The West is a 4-1/2 point favorite with a total of 263.

James is the inarguable star for the East, but the rest of the starters include Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Allen Iverson of the Detroit Pistons. On the bench for the East are all-stars Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets, Mo Williams of the Cavaliers, Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers and Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks. Allen and Williams were named subs last week.

Iverson is the only player whose worthiness appears to be under question, so expect the rest of the East guards to receive additional playing time.

The West All-Stars starters include Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, assuming he's able to go with his groin injury, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets. The bench of the West will include Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Chauncey Billups of the Denver Nuggets, Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers, David West of the New Orleans Hornets, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Shaquille O'Neal of the Phoenix Suns.

Coaching the East will be Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, and the coach of the West will be Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The West figures to have a size advantage, with six players towering at 7-foot or more in height. If anything, the speed could be the advantage of the East. Of course, being in Phoenix, the "home court advantage" will again be favoring the West for the 6th straight season. Officially, the East hosted the '07 game in Vegas, but the regional edge was to the West.

It is commonly believed that the balance of power in the NBA has shifted in recent years from the Western Conference to the Eastern. Boston helped validate that theory by winning the championship last season. This year, the trend seems to be continuing, with three of the league's four elite teams leading their respective divisions in the East. As of press time, the Lakers, Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando were all within two games of one another.

In terms of head-to-head records in non-conference play this season, through action on Thursday, the East was 20-games above .500 against the West. Compare that to last season, when the West was +43 games at that same point, and two years ago when the West was +49. The East's success in '08-09 has been top-to-bottom too, as only five of the conference's 15 teams were under .500 in non-conference action.

Still, even with that edge going to the East, it's no real surprise that the West opened as the 4-1/2 point favorite. After all, it has been favored every year since 2001. Here are a few other trends that have formed in recent years in the NBA mid-season extravaganza:

- The straight up winner has taken all but one of the last eight games ATS.
- The Eastern Conference in on an all-star game run of 4-1 ATS, all as the underdog.
- The so-called "road team" has won ATS in the L7 NBA All-star games.
- OVER the total has converted in two straight games and five of the L7.
- The last five all-star game MVP's are on rosters for the '09 game.

So, who will win? More importantly, who should we bet on? Most often, that question can be answered by determining these two things: 1) Which roster is better? And 2) Which team will play with more cohesiveness? While it is impossible for anyone to know enough about #2 other than pure speculation, it IS possible to evaluate the first question. This can be done both from perception and quantitatively.

If you read last year's piece I did on this same subject, I used a unique formula to determine which roster was more talented. It led me to predict a 128-126 win for the East. I'll do the same this year.

My exercise involves taking into account the popular Hollinger Ratings on ESPN.com used for evaluating Player Efficiency (PER). I've estimated the minutes the starters and reserves will play and have come up with a theoretical TOTAL TEAM EFFICIENCY RATING which I use to justify a pointspread play for Sunday's game. Take a look.

According to the results, assuming the minutes played breakdown is somewhat near accurate, the West roster is about 4.2% better in terms of cumulative player efficiency ratings. That's a decent sized margin for an all-star contest, much bigger than last season.

The West would also seem to be a more motivated team this year, looking to silence critics that think the East is the better conference now. Add to that the talent margin inside, and at point, I'd have to give the West the edge on the pointspread at anything less than 4-points. Prediction: West 133, East 122.

By: Steve Makinen - StatFox


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