NBA Looks Ahead to Second Half Following All-Star Weekend

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It was a weekend for firsts at the NBA All-Star festivities in Indianapolis. Damian Lillard became the first player to win the 3-point contest and All-Star Game MVP in the same year. His 39 points on Sunday won him the award a day after he became a repeat champion in the 3-point contest.

This was Lillard’s first start in eight All-Star appearances, and not everyone was pleased with his selection. In his first year with the Milwaukee Bucks, Lillard is averaging 24.6 points and 6.7 assists, down from 32.2 and 7.3 last year in Portland. By his lofty standards, he is having a down year with the Bucks, while New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson, mentioned as the biggest point guard snub, is averaging 27.6 points and 6.5 assists.

At least for the moment, Lillard has quieted the doubters. Now, he hopes to heat up in the second half and stop the slide in Milwaukee. The Bucks lost eight of 12 heading into All-Star weekend, and Wisconsin retail sportsbooks have them at +300 to win the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Boston Celtics.

The Steph and Sabrina Show

The 3-Point Contest was good, with Lillard winning on his final shot. The Dunk Contest has become tired and forgettable, from the lackluster performances by the participants to the broadcast that completely missed the first dunk by Jaylen Brown. But the 3-point showdown between Steph Curry, one of the best players in NBA history, and the New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu, a two-time WNBA All-Star and 3-Point contest winner, was everything we hoped for.

The new event is definitely coming back after Ionescu scored 26 points – the same total that Lillard won with – and only lost to Curry because he got hot down the stretch. Both players immediately said that the showdown should become a regular thing, and with no shortage of stars in both leagues, it will be.

It was a fun weekend for Curry, who now gets back to the work of trying to salvage the season for the Golden State Warriors. NBA online sportsbooks have the Warriors at -150 to miss the playoffs for just the third time in the last 12 years of Curry’s career.

Ionescu’s Liberty are +250 to win this coming season’s WNBA title after losing to the Las Vegas Aces in the finals in 2023. The Aces are the preseason favorite at +100.

NBA Player Award Odds

With just two months left before the NBA Playoffs begin, and with Joel Embiid out with a knee injury, Colorado online sportsbooks are all over Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic to win another MVP award. He is paying -140 to win his third MVP in four years.

Trailing Jokic is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+210) of the Oklahoma City Thunder, fresh off his second All-Star appearance. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (+850) is the third betting favorite to win his second MVP award.

As was the case even before he was drafted first overall last June, Victor Wembanyama is the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year. The San Antonio Spurs star is paying -600 to win the award. Chet Holmgren of the Thunder is paying +450. No one else is less than +25000.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is the current favorite to win Coach of the Year, paying +200. Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, who just coached the Western Conference All-Stars, is a close second at +225.

The NBA regular season resumes on Thursday, February 22. 

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