The NBA All-Star Game isn't exactly a defensive showcase, as last year's 196-173 final score proves.
However, that doesn't mean the players don't care who wins. The fourth quarter often gets competitive, with the stars battling it out in a more legitimate way.
Therefore, it will be important for each conference to play its best lineup in the final minutes of Sunday night's contest in New Orleans.
With rosters full of the game's brightest stars, coaches Steve Kerr (West) and Brad Stevens (East) will have to make some tough decisions when it comes to who closes out the game.
Pushing the right buttons in the fourth quarter will be the key to victory, so here's how each conference should handle the final minutes of Sunday night's action.
- James Harden, PG
- Steph Curry, SG
- Klay Thompson, SF
- Kevin Durant, PF
- Draymond Green, C
Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, should trust his guys in the clutch on Sunday night. With four Warriors on the team, he'll be able to confidently field a crunch-time five that has some on-court chemistry.
From there, Russell Westbrook would be a good choice, but he and Durant (and the rest of the Warriors, for that matter) have an ongoing feud, so he's out. But that's not necessarily a bad thing for the West, as James Harden actually fits in better with the Warriors players.
Harden is a lethal three-point shooter, but he's at his best when he drives the lane and either gets to the free-throw line or dishes it out to an open shooter behind the three-point arc.
Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green are all fantastic outside shooters, so spacing the floor for Harden would be no issue - Harden would love playing with so many perimeter weapons at his disposal.
Defending that crunch-time lineup, though, would indeed be a major issue for the Eastern Conference.
- Isaiah Thomas, PG
- Kyrie Irving, SG
- Kyle Lowry, SF
- LeBron James, PF
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, C
In the East, any crunch-time conversation has to start with Mr. Fourth Quarter - Isaiah Thomas. Since Stevens, the Boston Celtics coach, is leading the Eastern Conference, he'll likely have his guy out on the court with the game on the line.
From there, adding Kyrie Irving and LeBron James from the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers is a no-brainer. LeBron and Irving have proven their worth in tight moments over and over again throughout their careers.
After those three, though, the situation gets murky. With plenty of great options to choose from, Stevens should go with Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, who has made the third-most threes this year (behind Curry and Harden), to space the floor.
The Eastern Conference doesn't have a true center on its roster, so Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks gets the nod. The Greek Freak is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game and is also one of the best passers in the game.
No matter who wins on Sunday night, watching these two crunch-time lineups battle it out in the fourth quarter would be a treat for NBA fans everywhere.