2021 NBA All-Star game guide: How to watch Embiid, Simmons


NBA All-Star Weekend, featuring some of the league’s biggest names, is quickly approaching. While the league initially postponed the All-Star game, they decided to move forward with it and have changed the format to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

Here’s everything you need to know from who’s playing to how to watch.

When is the NBA All-Star Game?

The 2021 NBA All-Star game takes place Sunday, March 7th at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The game was initially scheduled to take place in Indianapolis, but the NBA announced their decision to move the game due to the COVID-19 pandemic and schedule conflicts with the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament.

Why did the NBA decide to have an All-Star game after initially postponing it?

The NBA officially announced in February that this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend would take place in Atlanta, despite several players being vocal about not wanting to participate. LeBron James made that clear in his response to a question about playing in the All-Star game back in early February:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver joined ESPN’s The Jump to discuss the league's decision to move forward with the All-Star game:

"There were obviously those who thought we shouldn't play without fans, thought we shouldn't play in the bubble, thought we shouldn't be playing in a very serious way because of the social justice issues roiling this country,” Silver said during the interview. “So I certainly hear the other side of this issue here. And I'll lastly say it seems like no decisions during this pandemic come without uncertainty and come without risk. This is yet another one of them, and yet it's my job to balance all those interests and ultimately it feels like the right thing to do to go forward."

For the record, some still think it's a bad idea.

Can Sixers fans buy tickets to the All-Star game?

No, fans cannot buy tickets to this year’s All-Star game. However, there will be around 1,200-1,500 people allowed in the stands, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Local healthcare workers, students and staff from HBCUs and some family members of All-Star players were given special invitations to attend the game.

Due to public health concerns, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms asked fans not to congregate in large groups or make any plans to visit the city for the All-Star Game.

Who made the 2021 All-Star roster?

Joel Embiid made his fourth consecutive All-Star team, while Ben Simmons made his third consecutive All-Star team. Unfortunately, Tobias Harris - who made the strongest case of his career thus far for All-Star consideration - was excluded from the game.

LeBron James and Kevin Durant led the list of players who were voted and selected by fans, a media panel and current players. As the two NBA All-Star starters who led their conferences, James and Durant will serve as team captains for the Team LeBron vs. Team Durant game on Sunday.

On Thursday, March 4th, the NBA All-Star draft aired on TNT and both captains selected which all stars they wanted to represent their team:

For the third straight year, Embiid and Simmons are on opposing teams: Embiid is on Team Durant and Simmons is on Team LeBron. Maybe one day we'll get to see the two pair up for an All-Star Game alley-oop. 

Of course, if we keep getting content this good from the Sixers' two stars during All-Star games, it doesn't really matter what team they're on:

With the first overall pick, LeBron James selected the NBA's two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The past two All-Star games James and Antetokounmpo were both captains. This year James is looking to defend his title after defeating Team Giannis at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. Kevin Durant drafted Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving with the second overall pick in the draft. Durant will not play in the game due to an injured hamstring, but he still selected his team as captain and general manager.

Who are the 2021 West All-Stars (starters, reserves and coach)?

2021 Western Conference starters:

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard.

2021 Western Conference reserves:

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (Davis is out with a calf injury, so Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will replace him), Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson.

2021 Western Conference coach:

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and his staff will coach Team LeBron

Who are the 2021 East All Stars (starters, reserves and coach)?

2021 Eastern Conference starters:

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (Durant is out with a hamstring injury, so Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis will replace him), Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia 76ers forward Joel Embiid

2021 Eastern Conference reserves:

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic.

2021 Eastern Conference coach:

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers and the Sixers' staff will coach Team Durant thanks to the Sixers sitting in first place in the East at the halfway mark.

How can I watch the 2021 NBA All-Star game?

TNT’s coverage will begin at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT with the TNT NBA Tip-Off show. You can watch their television coverage on TNT or live steam it by signing in with a cable provider to the TBS website.

What's different about this year's All-Star weekend?

The NBA announced that, for the first time ever, all major All-Star weekend competitions will take place on the same day. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Rising Stars Challenge will not be played this year due to the limitation of having all the events in one night. However, the league continued its tradition of naming Rising Stars rosters by revealing the line-up via their new online NBA highlights company, NBA Top Shot. Zion Williamson and 2019 Rookie of the Year Ja Morant led the list of 20 players selected by NBA assistant coaches.

Neither Sixers rookie Tyrese Maxey nor Sixers second-year player Matisse Thybulle made the roster.

The 2021 NBA All-Star game will follow last year's format using the "Elam Ending," with teams competing to win each of the first three quarters, which will be 12 minutes each. For the fourth quarter, the clock will be turned off and a target score will be set, and whichever team reaches that target score will be crowned champion. Also similar to last season, the league will honor Kobe Bryant by factoring in 24 into the final target score, according to The Athletic.

As part of the 2021 NBA All-Star game format, the league will provide more than $3 million in initial support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and communities of color disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations will be made throughout the weekend’s games, challenges and contests to support the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, National Association for Equal Opportunity, and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity. More details here.

When is the 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest?

The dunk contest will take place during halftime of the All-Star Game. The league announced the three NBA players who will participate in this year’s contest:

While the All-Star game has big names that will entice fans to watch, the Slam Dunk Contest is lacking in that category. The league had a tough time getting players to participate in this year’s contest. New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards and Charlotte Hornets guard Miles Bridges all declined their invitations to participate, according to Chris Haynes.  

When is the 2021 Three-Point Contest and Skills Challenge?

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge and the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest will take place prior to the game getting underway at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The NBA announced the full list of participants on Tuesday, March 2nd: Devin Booker, Jaylen Brown, Stephen Curry, Zach LaVine, noted whiner Donovan Mitchell, and Jayson Tatum.

One All-Star reserve who won’t be participating in the Three-Point Contest this year is Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, citing “rest purposes,” according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

The NBA also announced the full list of NBA players who will participate in the Skills Challenge ahead of the game: former Process Sixer Robert Covington, Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, Julius Randle, Domantas Sabonis, and Nikola Vucevic.

What city will host 2022, 2023 and 2024 NBA All-Star games?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s game that was originally set for Indianapolis was postponed and the league gave the city the 2024 All-Star Game instead. With the league deciding to move forward with the 2021 All-Star game in Atlanta, these are the cities that will host upcoming All-Star games in 2022, 2023 and 2024.


The 2022 NBA All-Star Game is slated for Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 in Cleveland at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers previously hosted NBA All-Star in 1997 when the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary and prior to that in 1981.


The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will take place at Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the very salty Utah Jazz, on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. This will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1993 NBA All-Star Game played in Salt Lake City. NBA All-Star on-court events will tip off on Friday, Feb. 17 and will culminate with the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19.


The 2024 NBA All-Star Game, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 12-14, 2021 in Indianapolis will now be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Feb. 16-18, 2024.

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