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2009 Dunk Contest Gambling Odds

2009 NBA All-Star Weekend

Now it’s time to have some fun.

Not that betting on the NBA isn’t already a hell of a lot better than flipping burgers. But this weekend’s All-Star gala is the handicapper’s equivalent of going to the carnival. Seven-foot giants (and Nate Robinson) will perform like acrobats in the Slam Dunk contest.The league’s best guards will try their sure and steady hands at the Skills Challenge. There’s even a shooting gallery – the Three-Point Shootout, to be specific. Plus, there’s Sunday’s All-Star Game to remind us that basketball is, indeed, a game.

Of course, the money you win betting the All-Star Weekend is every bit as real as Game 7 of the NBA Finals. And just like the carnival, if you know the rules of the game, you know where the value really is. Let’s start with the odds for Saturday’s Slam-Dunk Contest – as always, make sure to visit sports.bodog.com for the latest lines.

Dwight Howard (Orlando): 20-31
Rudy Fernandez (Portland): 13-4
J.R. Smith (Denver): 7-2
Nate Robinson (N.Y. Knicks): 19-4

The rules for this competition seem to change every year. But the most important thing to remember is that the winner will be decided by fans texting in their votes during the final round – just like it was last year, when Howard got 78 percent and 2007 winner Gerald Green got just 22 percent.

If you held a straight-up popularity vote among the above four players, Howard would very likely win – thus his heavy favorite status. But Fernandez is an interesting second favorite. He won an earlier “vote-in” (again, via the lucrative text message) to become the fourth participant, easily out-pointing Russell Westbrook and Joe Alexander. Fernandez is the first Spaniard ever to participate in the dunk contest and will undoubtedly pull in a ton of votes from across the Hispanic diaspora and elsewhere in Europe. Of course, they still need to make their dunks.

There are six players involved in the Three-Point Shootout; the clear favorite is Toronto’s Jason Kapono at 6-5, with Indiana’s Danny Granger second on the odds list at 7-2. Kapono is the two-time and defending champion. As a member of the Miami Heat, he scored 24 out of 30 possible points two years ago, then tied Craig Hodges’ 1986 record with 25 as a Raptor. Both those efforts were made during the championship round – this is one cool customer.Sports Betting at the Sportsbook

If you look at the season stats for 3-point shooting, you’ll find San Antonio’s Roger Mason (5-1) at the top of this six-man field at 44.9 percent to Kapono’s 42.2 percent. However, that’s during actual NBA play. The nature of the Three-Point Shootout requires a particularly fluid stroke and a quick release, which is where Kapono truly shines as a long-range bomber. Mason can still be argued as a value pick, though – this is his first time in the Shootout, so he may yet prove entirely capable of handling this environment.

The odds are a lot tighter for the other three Saturday events on the board – the Skills Challenge, the Shooting Stars, and TNT’s semi-official addition to the weekend’s festivities, the H-O-R-S-E competition (which, sadly, is actually going to be a G-E-I-C-O competition). The Skills Challenge is the safest bet of the three, since the other two require a fair amount of luck as well as shooting acumen. San Antonio’s Tony Parker (2-1) is the only player among the four Skills Challenge participants with previous experience; he finished last in the inaugural 2003 event.

There will be some actual basketball games this weekend. Friday features the Rookie-Sophomore game, officially known as the Rookie Challenge. As you might expect, the Sophomores have dominated this event with six straight wins and a 7-2 overall record since the current format made its debut in 2000. Those last six victories were by an average of 24.8 points. Only once did the Rookies even get within 20 points during that span, losing the 2006 matchup 106-96.

Sunday’s finale pits the Eastern and Western Conferences against one another. Although the West has held the balance of power in the NBA since the end of the Michael Jordan Era, the East has won three of the last four All-Star Games. Cleveland’s LeBron James has made this event his own personal playground, winning two of the last three MVP awards. The East has three of the top four players in the league in Player Efficiency Rating: James, Miami’s Dwyane Wade, and Howard. The fourth is New Orleans guard Chris Paul, who is coming off a groin injury. The scales are tipped in the East’s favor this year.

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