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NBA Weekend Recap: Tatum, Lillard and McClung Shine in All-Star Break

Ziv Chen for Bookies.com

Ziv Chen  | 4 mins

NBA Weekend Recap: Tatum, Lillard and McClung Shine in All-Star Break

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Basketball fans and bettors’ eyes were firmly fixed on Salt Lake City this weekend as the 30th NBA All-Star Game tipped off on Sunday at the Vivint Arena.

Giannis Antetokounmpo became the first All-Star Team GM to beat LeBron James as Team Giannis beat Team LeBron 184-175 thanks to a Damian Lillard three-point shot to reach the target score of 182 in the fourth quarter. Lillard also pocketed the Three-Point Contest Trophy in a jam-packed weekend of events and contests in Utah.

Elsewhere, Mac McClung became the first G-League player to win the Slam Dunk Contest, and Team Pau won the Jordan Rising Stars Challenge, beating Team Jason in the final 25-20. All in all, it was a fun weekend of basketball action, which will have had people glued to their NBA betting apps watching it all. Read below for some of the stories you might have missed.

Tatum hits Record All-Star Haul

It has been an excellent season for Jayson Tatum, with the Boston Celtics forward forming part of an exhilarating offense with Jaylen Brown. Tatum is the fourth favorite to win the MVP this year, valued at (+1800) with some USA sports betting sites.

At the All-Star Game, Tatum furthered his reputation as one of the league’s stars with a record-setting 55-point performance. This is the most points scored in an All-Star Game ever. His 22-of-31 scoring from the field put the exhibition in exhibition game, and his 10-of-18 from beyond the arc showed his all-around offensive game. He also scored 22 in the third quarter, earning him the record for most points in a quarter in an All-Star Game.

Tatum picked up the Kobe Bryant MVP Trophy and gave us one of the best moments of the weekend when Tatum and Brown, had a one-on-one faceoff to finish the third quarter. His contribution was pivotal to Team Giannis’ victory, the first time that Team LeBron has been beaten since the league switched to a draft format in 2018. Tatum set himself apart on All-Star weekend and showed himself as one of the league’s best. And now his focus will be on helping the Celtics live up to their billing as favorites to win the NBA Finals this season with NBA betting sites.

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Lillard Scores a Walk-Off Three for Team Giannis

Damian Lillard became the Portland Trail Blazers’ record points scorer this year and has posted some monster numbers in 2022/23. He’s averaged a career-high 31.4 points so far and is shooting 37.2% from deep.

His achievements have been overshadowed this season by Portland’s overall struggles. The Trail Blazers are (+300) with some US betting apps to just make the playoffs this year and are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference. Maybe his team’s bad results are why Lillard didn’t even get enough votes to start the All-Star Game.

Lillard proved that he deserved to be in the showpiece. He put his game face on to win the Three-Point Contest too, beating Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers in the final round. He scored 26 points from the bench in the All-Star Game for Team Giannis, including the winning three-pointer. 

While star players for teams at the top of the standings will always get the most attention, it’s nice to see a franchise player having an excellent year and getting the appreciation he deserves.

Mac McClung puts NBA on Notice in Dunk Contest

The 2023 NBA Slam Dunk contest winner isn’t theoretically an NBA player. Mac McClung excited fans across basketball during his high-school years, with compilations of his dunking prowess earning him comparisons with fellow Class of 2018 graduate Zion Williamson.

While Zion’s injury kept him out of the contest, McClung signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers last week. He is currently playing at the Delaware Blue Hens of the G-League, allowing him to participate in the contest as its first-ever G-League player. McClung absolutely stole the show.

He scored a perfect 50 on all but one of his attempts, beating the New Orleans Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III in the final round. He won the contest with a 540-degree jam. The dunk was so good that Dominique Wilkins got up from the judging table and hugged the 24-year-old.

After generating a lot of hype in high school, McClung had underwhelming spells in college with Georgetown and Texas Tech before going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. He eventually found his way to camp with the Los Angeles Lakers and headed to the G-League with its affiliate, South Bay Lakers. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year award in his first year.

Signing with the Sixers and its G-League affiliate Blue Hens allowed McClung to step up and show his skills on the biggest stage of all. For a player with only four games of NBA experience, he seemed right at home performing with all eyes on him. His performance put NBA executives looking for a sleeper on notice. 

About the Author

Ziv has served for two decades in senior positions with online gambling operators and software companies. In recent years he decided to combine his passions for writing, gambling, and sports, and became a fulltime casino and sports betting writer. Ziv’s biggest loves are the NFL (Pittsburgh Steelers), college football (Maryland Terrapins), casino games and online slots.