LAS VEGAS – The all-star game for every major sport has never been anything special. The competitions are usually not exhausting, and the result is of little importance for the big league year scheme. This is usually the case with the NBA, but on Sunday the league will shake things up for their all-star game in a format that pays tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
Gone are the usual parameters of a basketball game. Results are reset after each of the first two quarters, and teams play for Chicago-based community organizations. After the third quarter, the clock is turned off and the two teams struggle to achieve a goal score in a final quarter of the game without a goal. This target score is 24 points more than the leading team score, or both if it is a tie.
How oddsmakers would deal with this new format was a burning question, and over the course of the week, various operators launched with unique weather options.
The aspects that gave them the slightest problem were the side. The LeBron team opened up as a consensus favorite, and coming to this conclusion was an easy task.
"Besides, this year's all-star game is actually a little cheaper," said Patrick Eichner of PointsBet, which operates in New Jersey. "It is really just a handicap of the respective roster."
Team LeBron has the decisive advantage in squad make-up. It is a team full of talents from the Western Conference – including Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard. The Lebron team initially identified the market as a 4½ point favorite, but by Friday this had risen to 6 points.
Where the operators seemed to be different was the total for the game. As the NBA severely limits the fourth quarter rating, the overall score may decrease. PointsBet opened the total at 285.5, but jumped to 301.5 in the following days.
"We got the over going early and also pushed a bit to keep up with the market," said Eichner. "The public is always on the lookout for the over, and I think especially this year given the Kobe tribute aspect."
This movement alone shows how much this new format is changing things for bookmakers across the country. Even the current consensus of 302 is far from what weather has seen in the past.
The 2019 NBA All Star game ended with 342 total points scored and 2017 with 374 points. The lowest total in the recent past was 293 points in 2018, the year the league increased player incentives to $ 100,000 for each member of the winning team.
PointsBet also opened several prop markets for the game, including props for players. Dollar Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has the highest total at 23½ points, and setting these points required a rethink.
"Our dealers have to assume a little bit which players will contribute the most in the fourth quarter," said Eichner.
In Las Vegas, Westgate Sports Betting approached it by setting totals of 86½ points for each of the first three quarters, as well as spreads for each. However, the real problem Westgate sports betting manager Jeff Sherman is facing is not taking numbers, but taking action.
"The challenge is that bettors understand the concept," said Sherman. “The new rules confuse many people. I guarantee that this will be one of the all-star games we've had so far. "
This is an extremely low grip. Despite the stand-alone aspect of the show, the usual grip of an all-star game isn't even close to a Lakers game on TNT in Las Vegas. It's closer to a nightly NBA competition that isn't on national television.
It's one of the most unusual formats weather has seen for an all-star game, but the odds makers have made big strides. It remains to be seen what the weather will do.