NEW YORK - The 2015 NBA All-Star Game tips off on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in a star-studded event that closes out a weekend of basketball festivities. The Eastern Conference stars will try to beat the Western Conference stars for the second-straight time in the 64th annual matchup between the top players in the league.
While All-Star games are not always hotly contested matchups, there are some pretty interesting things to note before tonight’s contest. Defense is not likely to be on the menu, but there will be no shortage of storylines about the action on the court.
Below are eight noteworthy facts about tonight’s All-Star Game that basketball fans should be aware:
The Gasol brothers are matching up
Siblings Pau and Marc Gasol will tip off against one another to start the All-Star Game. The Chicago Bulls' Pau is the starting center for the East and the Memphis Grizzles' Marc is the starting center for the West. Sunday’s game will be the first All Star matchup in history where brothers start against one another.
The Atlanta Hawks have four All Stars
The Hawks are often seen as “a team without superstars,” but they have four solid All-Stars on the East squad in Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap. No other NBA team has more than two 2015 All-Stars. Korver made the squad for his lights-out shooting (52.3 percent from behind the arc), point guard Teague has averaged 7.5 assists and the Horford/Millsap frontcourt has combined for an average 32.4 points and 15.3 rebounds.
There are seven first-timers
Along with the Hawks’ Korver and Teague, Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry, Chicago Bull Jimmy Butler, Sacramento King DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson are all making their All-Star game debuts.
The coaches are green
The coaches of the top teams in each conference helm the All-Star squads. Eastern Conference coach Mark Budenholzer from the Hawks is in just his second season at Atlanta. He’s the more senior of the coaches, as the West will have first-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr on the bench.
The West is deep
Perhaps showing how deep the Western Conference is, the All-Star team (including injured selections and their replacements) is made up of 15 players from an amazing 11 different teams. The East has 13 All-Stars from just seven teams. It goes to show just how many good teams there are in the West.
Tim Duncan has been here before
The seemingly ageless San Antonio Spur earned his 15th All-Star game selection, tied for fourth-most in history. Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki isn’t far behind with 13. Kobe Bryant, who won’t be playing because of injury, was still named to the team for the 17th time. That’s good for second all-time and is just two behind leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
2015 is a rubber match
Over the last 10 All-Star games, the East and West have each won five. All-Star games aren’t necessarily very competitive, but still, the two squads have, in general, been evenly matched over the last decade.
There will likely be a lot of scoring
Over the same 10-year period, the All-Star Game has seen some high scoring affairs—and very little defense. In the last 10 games, the West has averaged 139.9 points per game, while the East has averaged 136.6 points per game. Last year’s matchup was the highest scoring All-Star game in history with the East winning 163-155 (318 total points). The top scoring NBA team so far in the 2015 regular season is the Golden State Warriors, who have averaged 110.6 points per game.