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The NBA will be the focus of attention in the sports world over the next week and a half as the annual All Star Break occurs this weekend.

The All Star Game and surrounding festivities take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles. A few days later the trade deadline occurs and we should see some major, but mostly minor, roster shake ups take place.

Although the All Star break is the symbolic midpoint of the season, nearly two thirds of the NBA’s regular season schedule has been played. Teams will have barely more than 25 games remaining once play resumes next Tuesday.

Scheduling dynamics play an increasingly greater role in handicapping the final couple of months of regular season play. Teams will often pick their spots to expend more or less energy than usual, depending on the foe and the significance of the game.

Often large favorites will coast to non-covering wins when facing weak foes and having to face a contending team a day later.

Fatigue and injuries continue to be the most important day to day variables and successful handicapping requires close monitoring of those situations.

Many of the online odds services provide up-to-the-minute status reports on players but it is also possible to glean such status information by visiting websites related to specific teams or newspapers/blogs that cover those teams.

Of equal importance is interpreting the significance of injuries and not so much what their impact on the point spread should be but rather what their impact on the game itself might be.

In some cases a line move or adjustment may not be enough to compensate for the absence of a key starter or reserve. In other situations the perceived impact may be greater than what should actually take place on the court.

Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules to follow and each situation is, of course, unique. Only time and experience can give you a feel for how you should deal with injuries and other lineup adjustments.

But that’s part of what makes handicapping such an intriguing challenge, the results of which can prove to be quite profitable.

If this season is typical of prior NBA All Star games you should expect very little defense and little time wasted between the hoisting of one shot to the next. These games are generally high scoring and the lines are made with that thought in mind.

Last season, for example, the total in Arlington, Texas opened around 260 and closed around 262. The final score was 141-139 which translates to an average of 70 points per quarter.

We can expect a similar line for this season’s game and perhaps with the Hollywood crowd in attendance there might be even more reasons to expect dazzling performances from the league’s top stars and scorers.

As a guide you might use a line of 3 for the side and a total of 265 as guides for playing the game.

If either side is favored by more than 3, you might consider a play on the underdog. If the Total varies by more than 3 from 265 you might look to play OVER 262 or lower or play UNDER 268 or higher.

Remember, of course, that the All Star game is merely an exhibition game that is designed to entertain the fans in attendance and the viewing audience. Many professional handicappers and bettors won’t be involved at all, focusing instead on the day’s college basketball offerings of a half dozen games or so.

With no “real” NBA games played over the All Star weekend here’s a look at the two games on Thursday that close out pre-All Star Competition.

San Antonio at Chicago (Thu): San Antonio continues to have the best record in the NBA (45-9) but what’s even more remarkable is its 33-19-2 record against the point spread, further indication that the Spurs continue to experience a lack of success. Usually teams with such gaudy straight up records are overvalued by the lines makers and post losing ATS marks.

Chicago has similarly been overlooked for much of the season, overshadowed in the Eastern Conference by both Boston and Miami. Yet as the week begins the Bulls are just two and a half games behind top seeded Boston, with an outstanding 36-16 straight up record and 30-21-1 ATS.

Part of Chicago’s success has been their outstanding play at home where they are 23-4, second only to San Antonio’s home mark of 25-2. The Spurs do sport the league’s best record of 20-7 and might be the slightest of favorites here. The Spurs won their only previous meeting this season, 103-94 at home in mid November.

Both teams are playing well as each has won 8 of 10 entering the week. The Bulls’ Derrick Rose is very much in the league MVP conversation and Carlos Boozer appears as close to 100 percent as he’s been since missing much of the first half of the season due to injury.

Expect a very focused effort from the hosts as they use this game as a measuring stick of their progress as a contender. CHICAGO.

Dallas at Phoenix (Thu): Dallas is yet another contending team that plays in the shadows of other more high profile teams. The Mavericks actually have the second best record in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of the Lakers.

The Mavericks trail Division rival San Antonio by seven games but are all but assured of a high seed that carries home court advantage in at least the opening round of the playoffs. Dallas just had its 10 game winning streak snapped in Denver but followed that loss with a win at Houston to perhaps start yet another lengthy skein.

Phoenix has played well over the last month, winning 11 of 16 games, to stand at .500 starting this week but are currently seeded tenth, three games out of the eighth spot. Phoenix is not as talented overall as Dallas but former Maverick Steve Nash still directs the Suns’ offense effectively. His stats for this season are very similar to those posted in his six previous seasons triggering the Phoenix attack.

Phoenix has an extra night of rest although Dallas’ Wednesday contest was hosting lowly Sacramento which might not have required a great expenditure of energy. Dallas won the only other meeting this season, 106-91 at home in mid December, covering as 7 point favorites.

The Maverickss are likely to be very short favorites here but the Suns are playing well enough of late to support them, notwithstanding Dallas’ outstanding record on the road. PHOENIX.


last week season PCT
0-3 21-21-2 50.0



About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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