The Western Conference rides a three-game winning streak into the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans on Sunday, and their stacked roster has them favorites to become the first conference to win four in a row since the East won five in a row from 1980-1984.
The West is loaded with star power up and down the lineup. Kevin Durant is obviously the marquee name of the group, as he's in the midst of an NBA caliber season. Durant is joined in the starting lineup by several of the other most dynamic offensive forces in the NBA. Stephen Curry is almost like a mini-Durant, while Blake Griffin and Kevin Love both fill up the score sheet in their own unique ways.
It will be weird not seeing Kobe Bryant, who's still recovering from a knee injury suffered in mid-December. Replacing Bryant in the starting lineup will be James Harden, who was chosen as starter by his former coach in Oklahoma City, Scott Brooks.
The strength of the West is really illustrated by the bench. A unit of Chris Paul, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard is basically starter worthy in its own right. Not to mention Damian Lillard. Also consider that Anthony Davis, a 20-and-10 machine who also blocks a ton of shots, was only selected as an injury replacement.
Compare that to the Eastern Conference, which has been ridiculed all year for being weak. Players like Paul Millsap, DeMar DeRozan and Joe Johnson are obviously good, but they almost certainly wouldn't sniff the All-Star Game if they played in the West. That could probably be said about a few other East players as well.
Of course, that doesn't mean the East is completely bereft of elite talent. LeBron James is on the roster after all, and he remains the best darn player in the world, even if Durant may be challenging that throne this season. One could only hope James and Durant take part in another duel like they did when their respective teams got together just a few weeks ago.
Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Dwyane Wade also provide some more legit star power for the East, although Wade is dealing with nagging injuries. Kyrie Irving rounds out the East starting lineup, and while Irving and his Cleveland Cavaliers have been a major disappointment this year, his skill set is a perfect match for the All-Star Game setting.
The West won the 2013 All-Star Game 143-138 in Houston. Paul earned MVP honors in the game, scoring 20 points and 15 assists. Anthony led the East with 26 points.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Radio: ESPN Radio