Wanna Bet? SI.com’s Gambling Look at Luka Doncic and the NBA All-Star Game

Mike Fisher

From the Rising Stars Challenge (won 151-131 by Team USA over Team World on Friday) to interaction with President Barack Obama and Michael Jordan to a bigger-than-life presence in Chicago (as noted by the hustling Dorothy J. Gentry of Texas Metro News ...

Luka Doncic is everywhere.

The NBA All-Star Game takes center stage today at the United Center in Chicago, and yes, Team LeBron battles Team Giannis with Doncic set to start - and maybe star - for Team LeBron. Roy Larking of SI.com goes deep into the best bets for the evening ...

With added charity components, which honor late Laker great Kobe Bryant, let’s break down the match format and pick the winner of this star-studded affair.

Spread: Team LeBron -5.5 (-110) | Team Giannis +5.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Team LeBron -200 | Team Giannis +175
Total Points: 301.5 O/U (-110)
Game Details: 7 p.m. CT – United Center in Chicago, IL.

2020 NBA All-Star Game Format and Rule Changes

Along with adding tributes to Kobe Bryant before and during the contest, the NBA has made some format changes to the 2020 All-Star Game. Playing out like four games in one, the score will be reset prior to the start of the first three quarters. Those mini-games are 12 minutes and will follow regular season timing rules. The winner of each of the first three quarters will receive a $100,000 donation for the Chicago-based community organization they are playing for.

An additional $200K is donated to the team that wins the game. If one side wins the entire $500K, the other team will still receive $100K for the charity they are representing.

Team LeBron is playing for the Chicago Scholars program, while Team Giannis is playing for the After School Matters program. Scores from the first three quarters will then be added together and a Final Score Target will be set at 24 points higher than the score of whichever team is leading.

If Team LeBron is up 110-105 after three quarters, the first team to reach 134 points wins the game. In that scenario, Team LeBron earns an NBA All-Star Game three-peat if they score 24 points before Team Giannis scores 29. The shot clock stays active, but the game clock will be turned off during the fourth quarter.

The 24 points honors the jersey number 18-time All-Star Kobe Bryant wore during the final 10 seasons of his 20-year Los Angeles Laker career. The final target score would have been set at 136 when Team LeBron faced Team Stephen two years ago and 156 during the Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis duel last year.

Final Score Target Rule Affects Game Total Picks

This is third year a top player from the East and West selected the All-Star teams. Two years ago, Team Stephen was up 112-109 on Team LeBron at the end of the third quarter. Using a 136 final target score, Team Stephen would have won 136-133 when Russell Westbrook made two free throws with 4:24 left on the clock. However, that game was four 12-minute quarters and Team LeBron (East) posted a 148-145 win when King James was still with the Cavaliers.

Last year, James made selections representing the West and they had a 132-131 lead after three quarters. With the target set at 156, Team LeBron would have won 158-153 when Kevin Durant drained a three-point shot with 5:54 left in the game. The final score was 178-164 for Team LeBron over Team Giannis. Doing some quick math, 24 fewer points would have been scored two years ago and there would have been 31 fewer points scored in the game last year.

Bettors need to consider the Final Score Target rule if they are wagering on the game total. While it probably added an extra headache for the bookmakers, bettors can be certain that linemakers adjusted the game total with the rule change in mind. Don’t blindly bet on the total going over based on the last six All-Star games averaging 336.2 points. If the 2020 rules were applied to those contests – the final score went over 302 total points during just three of the six games.

Team LeBron vs Team Giannis Final Thoughts and Prediction

Based on regular season points per game to date, Team LeBron starters have outscored Team Giannis starters by a 143-128 margin. That carries over to the reserves as well, as the edge there is 149-141 in favor of Team LeBron. All five starters on Kings James' crew rank as top-12 scorers while just Antetokounmpo and Trey Young make that list from Team Giannis. Bet on Team LeBron winning the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and covering the point spread.

Pick: Team LeBron -5.5

NBA Season Record: 13-16-1

Team LeBron 2020 NBA All-Star Game Starters

James Harden, Houston Rockets (35.3 PPG)

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (28.9 PPG)

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (27.2 PPG)

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (26.6 PPG)

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (25.0 PPG)

Team LeBron Reserves

Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets (27.2 PPG)

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (26.4 PPG)

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (22.4 PPG)

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (20.6 PPG)

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (18.3 PPG)

Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder (17.4 PPG)

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (16.9 PPG)

Team Giannis 2020 NBA All-Star Game Starters

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (30.0 PPG)

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (29.7 PPG)

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (23.5 PPG)

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (22.9 PPG)

Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics (21.8 PPG)

Team Giannis Reserves:

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans (24.9 PPG)

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (24.3 PPG)

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (20.6 PPG)

Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (20.4 PPG)

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (19.6 PPG)

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat (15.8 PPG)

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (15.6 PPG)