3-Point Shooting Contest Recommended To Watch During All-Star Break
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The NBA All-Star Game is this Sunday in New York City, which means that basketball-loving city will finally have something to cheer about, at least for one day. The hometown New York Knicks, if you hadn't heard, are the worst team in the league this year with a record of 10 wins and 43 losses, and the Brooklyn Nets are not doing much better. The picture is a lot rosier elsewhere in the league, especially out West. And that's where NPR's Tom Goldman joins us to talk about this NBA season as it hits the All-Star break. Good morning, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, David.
GREENE: You know, I think about sports, I think about the NFL Pro Bowl and the baseball All-Star Game, often these are things that I don't really want to watch.
GOLDMAN: And you start to doze off.
GREENE: Yeah, the NBA's always been kind of different, right?
GOLDMAN: It is, yeah. I mean, I would say of all the major sports All-Star games, the NBA is probably the most entertaining. There is a lot of offense, a lot of showboating, little or no defense. And if you like that, you know, you should go ahead and watch. I will tell you one All-Star weekend contest that should be great, though - the three-point shooting competition tomorrow. Eight players in it; it includes the best in the NBA right now - Atlanta's Kyle Korver. You've got Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, who, in different games this season, scored 37 and 26 points respectively in a single quarter.
GOLDMAN: That is crazy, so it should be a great contest.
GREENE: Well, that sounds fun. Well, you're out West in Portland. And Portland is home to one of these really good, young teams this year. And, I mean, Portland's just one of a lot of good teams in the Western Conference.
GOLDMAN: As has been the case in recent years. You know, and it's making for some spectacular action early in the season. Usually teams don't get revved up before the All-Star break, but you've got 10 teams in the Western Conference currently fighting for eight playoff spots. So on any given night, whether it's the LA Clippers versus Houston, Phoenix versus Portland, Golden State versus Memphis, a lot of great stuff.
GREENE: And isn't there talk of the new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, doing something to change the playoff structure to make sure a lot of these great teams get into the playoffs?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, you know, he's taking not of this seeming imbalance. And he said he would be OK with a playoff system that would allow the best teams to qualify instead of eight from the West and eight from the East, which has meant in recent years good Western teams get left out of the postseason, bad Eastern teams get in.
GREENE: OK, but, Tom, I mean, the Eastern Conference is not totally chopped liver. I mean, you've got the story of LeBron James and his surging Cleveland Cavaliers. And then the Atlanta Hawks have really been a surprise this year.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the Hawks have been a revelation with their great team play. No superstars, really, but so many different players contributing. The Milwaukee Bucks - now, they haven't been dominant like Atlanta but they've surprised as well. Currently, they're seven games over .500. They're a bunch of role players who developed a great chemistry.
Two others of note - Toronto, considered a little off-the-grid in Canada - the Raptors have been one of the NBA's best teams all year. And then you've got the Washington Wizards with two outstanding guards, John Wall and Bradley Beal. Of course, we can't leave out Chicago and Cleveland; they played last night. Chicago won big. So the East definitely has its strong, exciting teams as well.
GREENE: All right. That is Tom Goldman, who is my pick to win the NBA three-point shooting competition this All-Star weekend. Tom, thanks a lot.
GOLDMAN: Oh, I better get practicing. Thank you.
GREENE: You should. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.