NBA All-Star Weekend: Format, Duration & Everything You Need to Know

Published 02/25/2021, 4:00 AM EST
Feb 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) leads his teammates in a cheer before a game against the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the narrow break, the shortened season, and all the ambiguity, the All-Star game is finally happening. Just a month ago, everyone from the critics to the players was questioning the organization of the event. But today, the NBA All-Star starters, the reserves, the important dates – everything is out, and the ultimate showdown is officially ON.


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But still, there are a lot of details about the weekend that are largely complex and demand an in-depth explanation. Check them out.

NBA All-Star Weekend: Key Dates


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Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant warm up at the 67th NBA All-Star Game: Team LeBron Vs. Team Stephen at Staples Center on February 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

The All-Star game is no more an Eastern Conference vs Western Conference fixture. In fact, the two highest vote receivers from both the conferences will select their teammates via an All-Star Draft.

So LeBron James (top-voted) will get to pick the first starter while Kevin Durant (opposition captain) will pick the first reserve. They will take turns to complete the picks and this show will take place on March 4, 2021. 

The other important dates and events:

  • NBA All-Star Game 2021 – March 7 – 06:30 PM ET on TNT – Atlanta
  • Skills Challenge and three-point contest – March 7 (preceding the All-star Game)
  • Slam Dunk Contest – March 7 (All-star Game half-time)

Game format and duration

The NBA All-Star Game will follow the same competition format as it did the last year when Team Giannis fought Team LeBron. Herein, each quarter (first till third) will begin with a 0-0 score for both sides.

The team with the most points in the 12 minutes will win that quarter for their respective beneficiaries (for donation). The fourth quarter, however, will see the game clock turned off. Both the teams will require reaching/crossing a Final Target Score to win the game.

How will the officials calculate the Final Target Score?

Last year, the All-Star Game took place under strange conditions after the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant just three weeks ago. The league paid tribute to Kobe’s #24 jersey by introducing this FTS rule.

Under this rule, the team with a higher cumulative score from the first three quarters would see 24 points added to that number. This new number would then become the Final Target Score, and the team to first reach/surpass the score with a basket/FT will win the game.


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For example, assume Team KD has a cumulative score of 136 in three quarters and Team LeBron has 120. Now, 136+24=160 will become the FTS. So Team KD would need just 24 points and team Bron would need 40 points to win, with no pressure of the game clock.

This is a very amusing format, and last year, it saw Team LeBron winning with FTs while Team Giannis Antetokounmpo was two points shy of touching 24. It led to a highly competitive Q4 with no transition offense, a crazy effort from Kyle Lowry, 26 FTs, and whatnot.

So which side are you going to cheer for and why? Help us know your opinion in the comments.


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Sourabh Singh

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Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.