Before starting the unofficial second half of the season, the league’s All-Star Weekend entertained from beginning to end (assuming the “beginning” excludes everything that happened on a Raptors-free Friday).
Big men dominated the Skills Challenge. Shooters were out of rhythm in the 3-point contest. Dwight Howard scored a 50 on a dunk based purely on nostalgia. The All-Star Game had intense defense, players arguing calls, and a 15+ minute fourth quarter!
Up was down. Down was up. And NBA fans could not have asked for a better show from Chicago!
Enjoy an All-Star edition of That’s A Rap!
On This Episode:
When the Skills Challenge was first introduced, it was viewed as an event made for Point Guards. With speed, shooting, and passing obstacles, it was no surprise that Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, and Damian Lillard have each won the event twice. The introduction of Bigs to the competition was first seen as gimmicky, but, with the evolution of today’s game, it’s no longer surprising to see a finals matchup of Domantas Sabonis and Bam Adebayo.
This year’s 3-point contest winner, Buddy Hield, may need an asterisk next to his name. The introduction of the Dew Zone shot — 30 feet from the basket and worth an extra point — threw many competitors off rhythm. While it offered a couple players a chance to catch up (Davis Bertans), this new wrinkle conjured up memories of the “Dunk Wheel.” What did you think of the Dew Zone?
Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon put on a fabulous show in the Dunk Contest. Jones Jr. took the throne as the game’s best dunker, while Gordon continues wearing the crown as the best dunker to never win an NBA Dunk Competition. Whether or not you’re on the side of Gordon being robbed (spoiler: I’m not), the NBA may need to new ways of scoring. Are decimals really that difficult to implement?
Before the All-Star Game, NBA Twitter was confused by the Elam Ending and how it would work with the world’s best players. After the All-Star Game, it was a rousing success. Not only did NBA fans get treated to an ultra-competitive second half, but the NBA may have stumbled on a formula that could raise viewership numbers. True to form, Kawhi Leonard had the quietest All-Star MVP performance, while Kyle Lowry made his impact by drawing charges (plural!).
Nick Nurse’s adjustments throughout the game — yes, that was a full-court press in an All-Star Game — helped the team “win” the second quarter and almost pull out the upset over Team Lebron. Pascal Siakam taking crunch-time possessions and drawing fouls in the dying moments were very encouraging. Lowry being Lowry, but in an All-Star Game. It’s only an exhibition game, but the Raptors must have made a positive impression on the Free Agent class of 2021 and, specifically, a certain Greek Freak!
The second half of the season promises to be an exciting one for Raptors fans. As the team works towards fine-tuning the playoff rotation and getting healthy, the mini-cushion they’ve built, on the strength of their 15-game win streak, will go a long way in nabbing the 2-seed. Do you think Toronto can pull it off and finish second? Would you trade finishing #2 if it guaranteed the Raptors are fully healthy for the playoffs?
5:00 - (P-)Skills Challenge
12:00 - Dew what you gotta Dew
19:40 - When is a 50 not a 50?
39:30 - An All-Star Game for the Ages
57:45 - Giannis An-tamper-kounmpo
1:03:30 - Previewing the second half of the season