1. Andre Iguodala, Of Course
Andre Iguodala will be making his first all-star appearance tonight, coming off the bench for the East squad. He is part of a crowded wing rotation, with Melo and LeBron starting, with Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Luol Deng off the bench to compete with. Given that coach Tom Thibodeau plays Deng like 40 minutes in blowouts, he could play a ton or hardly at all, depending on how much Thibodeau cares about the game. Suffice it to say, he may only have a limited opportunity on the big stage. While his defense won’t matter, he may be able to show a thing or two. I hope it’s not just his mid-range jumper.
2. When will the teams start caring?
Usually, the first half of the all-star game contains little defense, a lot of showboating, and a lot of carelessness. But at some point, usually early in the fourth quarter, the teams start caring – the first one being the team that’s losing. It’s an interesting dynamic, in that the egos of the players come into play but the lack of meaning prevents them from caring sooner. But watch for when teams start caring: fewer trick shots and more defense enter the fray, and that’s where it gets interesting.
3. How do the fans react to Dwight Howard?
This is, in all likelihood, Dwight Howard’s last season in Orlando. He’s informally asked his way out of town and been the object of tampering charges, yet is still acting as the host for all-star activities. In a battle with his market and front office, he’s jerked the Orlando fans around but is too encased in his own world (like most NBA players) to realize it. I don’t necessarily blame him for wanting to leave – do you trust Otis Smith and that supporting cast? – but he certainly could have handled the situation better. If he plays well and wins the MVP, which is entirely possible, then the post-game interview will be one to remember. In front of the crowd, on the PA, the world watching. What does he say?