NBA All-Star Game boasts big names, but not big bets

The NFL season has been over for two weeks, but bettors still can get their fix at Las Vegas sports books.

On tap today is the NBA All-Star Game, which tips off at 5 p.m. on TNT, and books are prepared for the league’s annual showcase.

Want to bet how many total points, rebounds and assists LeBron James will have? No problem. Think you know who will make the first 3-point shot? There’s a line on that. And, of course, the most popular bet, the over-under on total points scored — this year it’s 294 — will attract a lot of money.

As for the line, the West, led by Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, is a 3½- to 5½-point favorite.

But the books don’t expect to be busy because of the game. Nick Bogdanovich of William Hill said he expects around $100,000 to be wagered.

“We don’t get a whole lot of action on the All-Star Game,” he said. “People will watch for the individual players, and the NBA is popular. But we don’t expect a big handle.

“The professionals don’t get involved. Any interest in betting the game is coming from the public.”

Ed Salmons of the LVH Superbook said there will be far more interest in today’s college basketball card than the All-Star Game.

“There’s just not a lot of interest,” Salmons said. “We’ll probably write on the NBA All-Star Game what we’d write on the NHL All-Star Game, which is not even six figures.”

Salmons said in previous years that anyone looking to make a bet on the NBA All-Star Game was primarily interested in the total. But with the number having risen over the years, fewer see it as a worthwhile wager.

“When the total was in the 260 to 270 range, people would be betting the over,” Salmons said. “But it’s reached the point where the public sees the number close to 300 and they say ‘enough.’”

The LVH has the total for today’s game at 293½.

There’s a good reason professional gamblers don’t like to get involved with exhibitions such as the NBA All-Star Game. The event is basically two games in one.

There’s the first three quarters, when it resembles a playground game and everyone is free-wheeling and dunking and jacking up 3-pointers. Then the fourth quarter starts, and the players’ competitive juices start to flow. Suddenly, guys are playing defense, and winning the game becomes the main motivation.

“That’s a good point,” Bogdanovich said. “Once these guys start playing for real, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

But as in football, prop bets are fun in basketball. And it can add to one’s enjoyment in watching the game.

William Hill has approximately 25 proposition wagers, including who will score the first 3-point basket (Golden State’s Steph Curry is the 2-1 favorite), total 3-pointers by both teams (25½) and individual player props, including total points, rebounds and assists for James (39½) and total points and rebounds for Durant (38½).

Some other props at the LVH are whether the game’s leading scorer will get 34½ points, whether the top rebounder will have 11½ boards, and will the largest lead by either the East or West be 17½ points. The LVH has posted 20 prop bets, a far cry from its nearly 350 for the Super Bowl.

“It’s more of a fun thing than anything,” Bogdanovich said. “But the game itself is nothing to get excited about.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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