Five matchups to watch in NBA All-Star Game
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The NBA All-Star Game tips off tonight at about 8 p.m. ET on TNT, in what half the world seems to think is a mere formality in the celebration of Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday.
But there’s a game to be played, and if you believe some of the people involved, that game does matter.
With that in mind, we break down five things to watch:
1. LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant.
The scrutiny came down on the game’s two most popular — and, perhaps, polarizing — players when Michael Jordan said he would rather have Bryant than James. Neither player put much stock in those comments, with Bryant saying he understand the point about his five championships to James’ one and James saying he thinks the argument is shallow. James will start at point guard for an oversized Eastern Conference lineup, and Bryant seems most likely to draw his assignment.
2. Kyrie Irving vs. Chris Paul.
Irving won’t start, but he probably is the best true point guard on the East roster. Paul is the best in the NBA. This weekend, though, has belonged to Irving, who had a phenomenal showing in the rookie-sophomore game Friday and won the three-point shootout Saturday. He’s the best ball-handler in the NBA and an incredible natural scorer. Paul is the crafty veteran now, an amazing passer who thrives in these situations and can embarrass opponents with his quick hands on defense. Irving seems ready to become the best point guard in the NBA, but Paul doesn’t seem willing to give up his spot.
3. Kevin Garnett vs. Carmelo Anthony.
The East starters say their feud from earlier this season is a thing of the past, but that will be tested when they play together. Anthony isn’t one to pass often anyway, but will he and Garnett have any chemistry? They were joking around a bit Saturday in practice, messing with colorful TNT and NBATV reporter Craig Sager. Keep in mind, if the season were to end today, Anthony’s New York Knicks would face Garnett’s Boston Celtics in the first round. We’re not expecting any trouble, but keep … [For more on Five matchups to watch in NBA All-Star Game, click here.]