NBA All-Star Weekend, Canadian edition: 4 things to watch

The NBA All-Star Weekend will take place north of the border for the first time as Toronto gets the honour of hosting this year’s star-studded event.

The league’s mid-season showcase will be an entertaining few days for basketball fans, here’s what to look out for when the three-day long event kicks off on Friday:

Battle of East vs. West heavyweights

The whole weekend builds up to the final event – the game that pits the best of the East and West against each other at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day for those of you interested in that sort of thing).

Of course, loyal Raptors fans will be watching Toronto backcourt standouts Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make their second all-star appearances. Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh will also represent the East on his old home court alongside former teammate and 12-time all-star LeBron James.

As stacked as the East sounds, the West boasts the formidable Golden State Warriors trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Still, the game is sure to be close as only two of the last 13 All-Star Games have been won by more than 10 points.

Lowry faces Curry in 3-point contest

Toronto’s Lowry will be up against reigning MVP and long-range specialist Curry in the three-point contest. The Warriors star is on pace to smash last year’s record of 286, so should we count Lowry out? Well, everyone may be competing for runner-up.

The West has some serious firepower in Houston’s James Harden and Thompson, but Lowry leads the East in three-pointers made and is shooting a career best .397 from the arc.

Lowry will need to overcome that stiff competition to become only the fourth Raptor to win a Saturday night event, following in the footsteps of Terrence Ross (2013 slam dunk), Jason Kapono (2009 three-point), and Vince Carter (2000 slam dunk).

Celebrity sightings

This year’s celebrity game pits Canada against our southern neighbours. Grammy winner and self-proclaimed “6ix God” Drake will coach alongside retired NBA MVP Steve Nash and Blue Jays all-star Jose Bautista on Friday (7 p.m. ET).

Adding some more athleticism to the event will be tennis star Milos Raonic — trying his hand on a different kind of court — seven-time NBA all-star Tracy McGrady, former NBA player Rick Fox and team Canada member Natalie Achonwa. The “Property Brothers,” actors Kris Wu and Stephan James, and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler will also suit up for the red and white.

Kevin Hart returns as bench boss of the American side. His team includes Michael B. Jordan (the actor), Jason Sudeikis, Nick Cannon, as well as former NBAers Chauncey Billups and Muggsy Bogues.

For reasons unbeknownst to most, Sting will be performing during the halftime show.

Wiggins, Lyles and the Rising Stars

Toronto doesn’t get to see much of 2015’s rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins, who plays in the West for the Minnesota Timberwolves, so his homecoming is sure to be sweet for fans.

The 20-year-old grew up in Vaughan, Ont., and led last year’s young International squad to victory in the Rising Stars game, being named the event’s MVP.

Wiggins will join the world team in the game against the Americans on Friday (9 p.m. ET). The 2014 first-overall draft pick will be joined by a pair of Canadians.

Dallas Mavericks’ Dwight Powell also returns home alongside Saskatoon’s Trey Lyles, of the Utah Jazz.

Article Written By: The Canadian Press