Wow what an exciting weekend of the best players in the league showing their individual talents. But their were many changes in each of the events, so let's go through the top four: Three Point Contest, Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge and the All Star Game.
First, with the three point contest. The major change within this event was the fact that all the money balls were located at one specific shooting spot in addition to one money ball located at each spot. I, for one, admire this change tremendously. This adds a lot more excitement and strategy in the shooting of each player, depending on where they place all the money balls. For example, say a specific shooter is off in all of the earlier spots but shoots lights out in the money rack at the end, they are still in the showing. Similarly, a player could shoot lights out at the first spot, where they placed the money balls, and then cool off later, but they still get double the points for the one rack. This adds more competition in the rounds itself, creating more ties and excitement.
For those of you that didn't know, Marco Belinelli did indeed win the Three Point Contest for the West. This was a huge surprise because Steph Curry, the heavy favorite, just couldn't get it done. Then, the favorite out of the East, Joe Johnson, had a pretty terrible round, scoring a low 11 points. Bradley Beal scores a total of 21 to top the Eastern Conference. So the finals was Belinelli and Beal. Now, people are saying these two were major underdogs to make the finals, but Belinelli is second in the NBA in three point field goal percentage and Beal is sixth in the same category. The finals were surprisingly extremely fun to watch. Belinelli put up a strong 19 points. Then Beal comes right back and hits his last six shots after a slow start and TIES him with 19. They go into an overtime round where Belinelli shoots lights out and scores 24, which Beal cannot exceed, and Belinelli wins.
Second, let's examine the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Okay, now this event also had major changes which did get a lot of hate. So, the format this year would be that three competitors from each conference would first have a 90 second 'freestyle' period, in which all three competitors from their respective conference would show what they have AS A TEAM. Then, the judges vote on which TEAM/CONFERENCE had the best dunks. Whichever conference wins gets to decide which conference would go first in the battle rounds, where one competitor from each conference would 'battle' another and the judges would determine who won the battle.
Just a quick refresh on the contest. It was Paul George, John Wall and Terrence Ross for the East against Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Ben McLemore for the West. The East won EVERYTHING, winning all of the battle rounds and the freestyle round. John Wall won best dunker as he jumped over the Wizards mascot which led to a reverse dunk with a pump included. Now the reason the new format was getting a lot of disrespect and hate was because it was short and quick which isn't the formats' fault. The only reason for this was because the West was simply bad. In the freestyle, where the purpose was for the conference was to act LIKE A TEAM, the West didn't. The East had dunks that were linked by passes from all three players, where the West were trying to show off individually and ultimately failed. Now for the battle rounds. The way to 'win' the overall battle rounds for the conference, was to win 3 battles. Now, again, the only reason they didn't have more battles is because the dunks from the West didn't meet up with those of the East, which weren't too good either. That's why the contest didn't last long at all. Also, I don't think Harrison Barnes should have been in the dunk contest. He is a ferocious dunker in games because he can posterize anyone, which he can't do in the contest unfortunately.
Thirdly, the Skills Challenge. I really admire this change as well, which was that two competitors acted together into coming up with a combined time. This was more fun to watch because one competitor couldn't let their teammate/other competitor down. So everyone competed at their highest level.
So in the finals, it was Trey Burke and Damian Lillard against Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter Williams. Unfortunately for the East, they couldn't connect the pass on their first try which costed them time. The West, on the other hand, were fluent in the passes, but Burke couldn't hit a three on his first couple of attempts which hurt their time. This was the closest Skills Challenge as the West won by 1 tenth of a second. If Oladipo hadn't show-boated a dunk at the end, the East would've won.
And finally, the All Star game. As expected, it broke scoring records at the half and at the end. Also, Blake Griffin broke the record for most field goals in one All Star Game, making 19 on 23 attempts. The East won in a pretty fun game and specifically fourth quarter, 163-155. Kyrie Irving was absolutely phenomenal, scoring 31 and dishing out 14 assists. He was crossing up, ankle breaking and sinking shots on anyone, including Dwight Howard.
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