It’s NBA All-Star weekend! Sixers fans have already seen their squad well represented in the festivities down in Charlotte. Suited up for Team World in Friday night’s Rising Stars game, Ben Simmons dropped a team-high 28 points on 14-for-17 shooting, also tallying 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 6 assists against 4 turnovers. We didn’t see him pull up from 3 as many anticipated, but Simmons certainly showed why he’s ready to graduate to the main event.
Now, Sixers fans have double the fun with Joel Embiid joining Ben out on the court. The two teammates will be on opposing sidelines, however, with JoJo part of Team Giannis, and Ben alongside his mentor on Team LeBron.
Potentially adding some spice to the proceedings will be Russell Westbrook and Embiid playing on the same squad. In last year’s All-Star game, Joel dialed the rivalry between the two up a notch by pulling up in Westbrook’s face for a 3, then denying him at the rim on the other end:
Embiid takes the Westbrook feud very seriously, even in the All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/uhkGshhCYf— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) February 19, 2018
Asked about playing together tonight, Russ was his usual cordial self:
Russell Westbrook was asked if he'll get along with All-Star teammate Joel Embiid on the court. His response? "Next question." (Then he names his favorite rappers): pic.twitter.com/a8w4dNVpHr— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 16, 2019
While it’s a shame they’re not facing each other to really see some fireworks, maybe we’ll get to see some pettiness with Russ refusing to pass to Joel or something.
People have (understandably) dismissed All-Star games as exhibitions not resembling real basketball. The change to the captain format last year did seem to ramp the intensity up a bit, however. We even saw some (gasp) defense down the stretch in the fourth quarter. After that game, people read quite a bit into Embiid being on the floor in crunch time, seeing it as his official arrival into the class of NBA elite. He certainly looked the part in staying with Paul George on an iso play for a huge block.
Embiid big block on Paul George in crunch time pic.twitter.com/w1hKcDabYj— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) February 19, 2018
Will we see any memorable moments take place tonight? Who are you rooting for — Team Ben (LeBron) or Team Joel (Giannis)? Follow along with all the action in the comments below.
Who: Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Vegas: Team LeBron -4.5, O/U 315.5