The NBA's finest descend on Houston for the All-Star clash and Sumeet Paul fancies Lebron to suffer a rare defeat in what has been a fine season so far
It's the best in the West against the finest from the East as the NBA regular season takes the weekend off for the All-Star Break. With the league's biggest names in town, be prepared for a high-quality sporting spectacle in Houston on Sunday night.
Injuries have threatened to spoil the big night for the Eastern All-Stars, with point guard Rajon Rondo ruled out after suffering a torn ACL, while there are also doubts over New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
However, with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade making up the rest of the starters, there is little risk of it being anything less than a fantastic night full of entertainment.
LeBron continues to dominate the headlines as he enjoys another potential MVP year scoring 30 points or more in seven consecutive games, shooting a staggering 60% or better from the field in the first six.
With the starting line-ups already announced, the sub-plots are endless. James vs Kevin Durant, Garnett's last All-Star appearance, Kobe Bryant's 15th consecutive All-Star nod but above all it's the NBA's biggest superstars all out on the same court.
James and Durant are widely regarded as the top two players in the association, and with Durant also posting up career-high numbers it has the makings of a great duel even if only for coastal bragging rights. Durant outscored James 40 to 39 on Thursday night, but couldn't stop the Miami Heat defeating Oklahoma City Thunder.
Switching coast, the Western All Stars are dominated by players based in Los Angeles, with two apiece from the Lakers and the Clippers making the starting line-up. Chris Paul and dunking machine Blake Griffin join forces again, while the disgruntled pairing of Bryant and Dwight Howard team up after a contentious start to life together at the Staples Center.
With such a vast array of talent on show, you can expect fireworks from all over the court. Whether it's Griffin taking flight and throwing down the monster slam teaming up with the other half of his 'Lob City' double act, or LeBron, Kobe or any number of stars draining threes from beyond the arc, there is going to be no shortage of quality basketball.
The Eastern All-Stars are the outsiders at 2.166/5 but, considering the individual scoring ability of the players at coach Erik Spoelstra's disposal, it could prove to be a fun night if any of the likes of Anthony, James or Wade heat up, .
Equally, the West have a great deal of firepower of their own. Coach Gregg Popovich will expect Durant, Griffin and Howard to dominate the boards at both ends with Bryant and Paul providing the inspiration offensively.
However, the reserves will also have a big say in the outcome, and with the likes of Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and James Harden providing a spark off the bench, the Western All-Stars should edge it and are favourites to do so at 1.768/11.
Back the Western All-Stars at 1.768/11