The NBA All-Star Game has, in most years, featured slight imbalances in the quality of the two conferences, with one conference having far better sixth- and seventh-place teams. This season, it’s much more than that. The Eastern Conference really has only two particularly strong teams. Will that reality actually enable the members of the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat to erect a fortress against the best players from the Western Conference and help cover point spread?
2014 NBA All-Star Game – New Orleans
Sunday, February 16
Why The East Can Cover The Spread:
It will have the roster that is more cohesive and functional as a group. The fact that there are five members of the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat on the East’s roster should give head coach Frank Vogel some pieces to work with. Vogel can put LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the floor together and blend in non-Indiana players with them. LeBron and Bosh can work a two-man game to give the East a lot of fluidity in its offensive concepts. Vogel can do the same thing for Paul George and Roy Hibbert, who can give the East instant (and substantial) balance between the perimeter and the low post.
Mixing and matching combinations of the best players on the two best teams in the conference can give Vogel and the East some attractive options in this game, even though the West is deeper. If the East gets high-quality minutes from its Miami and Indiana sources, the East might be so strong in those stretches of time that it will overcome any negative developments that might arise when the two are not on the floor. As long as this game is close heading into the final six minutes and the Miami-Indiana players (five of them: LeBron, Bosh, George, Hibbert, and Dwyane Wade) have not played too much, the East can make a strong push and pull this game out.
Why The West Can Cover The Spread:
It is indeed deeper, and what’s more is that the East probably won’t want to push its best players too much. It’s a complicated situation for Vogel as the head coach of the East. He will be thrilled to coach in his first All-Star Game, but he has a responsibility to take care of the Heat and Pacer players on his roster, making sure that they’re not run into the ground. You’ll probably see Vogel give his Indiana players and the Miami superstars a fair amount of minutes in the first half, but in the second half, you’ll probably see Vogel ease up on his own charges plus the Heat players who will likely go up against him in the Eastern Conference Finals. The West has fewer conflicts and should be able to run its players in and out of the lineup. The West will put better combinations on the floor at most points in the game. This should matter in a cumulative kind of way.
This is hard to deny: The West has better players to turn to, with Kevin Durant joining Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, James Harden, and LaMarcus Aldridge. The West also has three top-level point guards in Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker. The East does not match up well at most positions. The West should take control late.
Pick: West -6