The NBA All-Star Weekend has invaded the city. While the Garden hosts the crown jewel -- the All-Star Game -- Barclays Center will feature a hoard of events on Friday and Saturday that make the celebration more than just one game.
Read on for a glance at all five events featuring some of the NBA's best as well as its next generation of talent.
Rising Stars Challenge
Those intrigued by which young talents could be playing on a future All-Star Sunday would be wise to tune in Friday to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. Of the 28 men who have been named All-Stars this year, 24 have appeared in the game that showcases the top first- and second-year players.
This year, the format pits the best U.S. up-and-comers against the top internationals, a refreshing change from the recent fantasy draft-style rosters that have no meaning, and perhaps a more balanced matchup than the old "rookies vs. sophomores" games.
With the growth of the game worldwide, Team World looks like the better lineup. They're led by the Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (Canada) and feature talented big men such as the Jazz's Rudy Gobert (France) and Minnesota's Gorgui Dieng (Senegal). The Nets sent rookie Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia).
Team USA is solid, and comprised largely of players from the Magic, Wolves and 76ers -- maybe that bodes well for their respective futures. Mason Plumlee of the Nets also made the cut.
Look for Wiggins to break out with a point total north of 30 to earn MVP and lead Team World to victory at Barclays Center.
Who doesn't love a good half-court heave? Nobody, unless it takes a full minute of whiffs to get the job done.
That's occasionally what happens in the final phase of the Degree Shooting Stars competition, an event pairing a current NBA star, a former NBA player and a current WNBA star.
This year's event, which calls for participants to sink shots from specific spots on the court including the capper from half-court, features teams led by the Heat's Chris Bosh, the Warriors' Stephen Curry, the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and the Hawks' Paul Millsap, who replaced the injured Anthony Davis of the Pelicans.
Winning times from past years range from brisk (about 30 seconds or less) to grueling (as long as 89 seconds two years ago).
Team Bosh, including Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and two-time WNBA MVP Swin Cash, has won the past two competitions, but has been both fast and slow champions. The team certainly could three-peat, but we'll predict Team Curry (a father-son duo along with Sue Bird) dethrones them this year.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge, an obstacle-course event featuring many of the league's premier ballhandlers, returns for the 13th time. Unlike past years, this competition will run tournament-style, with head-to-head matchups over three rounds.
On one side of the bracket the Suns' Isaiah Thomas is paired with the Rockets' Patrick Beverley, and the Magic's Elfrid Payton faces the Hawks' Jeff Teague. On the other side, it's the Jazz's Trey Burke against the Bucks' Brandon Knight, and the Hawks' Dennis Schroder will face the Raptors' Kyle Lowry.
Of the field, only Burke is a returning champion. He won last year's competition while paired with the Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard. That event featured four teams of two, but the format was benched in lieu of the tournament.
For the uninitiated, the event tests players' passing, ball-handling and shooting abilities. The fastest time through the course wins.
Handicapping the event is tough, but Teague is our shot-in-the-dark pick.
The 3-point shot is as important as ever in today's NBA, and the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest allows the best of the best from beyond the arc to reign supreme.
The event, which has been an All-Star Weekend staple since 1986, is the premier around the world-style competition. Competitors fire five shots from each of five stations around the 3-point line, but they have just one minute to do so. The first four balls at each station are worth one point, and the final "money ball" is worth two. A perfect score of 30 has never been achieved; the all-time best is 25.
Reigning champ Marco Belinelli of the Spurs is back, as is 2013 winner Kyrie Irving of the Cavs. Each is capable of a second title, but the Warriors' duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are our favorites to duke it out in the finals. We're going with Thompson.
The crown jewel of NBA All-Star Saturday Night, the Sprite Slam Dunk contest is the evening's only event showcasing anyone from either of the two New York teams, the Nets and Knicks. Brooklyn's Mason Plumlee figures to have the crowd behind him at Barclays Center.
A year after the event boasted several All-Stars, this year's field returns to the trend of young, underexposed talents. It also boasts just four competitors, the smallest field since 2012.
Plumlee has some dunk contest competition history, dating back to his high school All-American days. He's fifth in the league this season with 88 dunks, according to CBSsports.com, so he's certainly been getting in his jam reps. His top competition may come from the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo. "Greek Freak" might be the best pure athlete in the field, which also includes the Magic's Victor Oladipo and the Timberwolves' Zach LaVine. And that's saying something for the 6-foot-11 swingman. Antetokounmpo is our pick to win it all, hopefully with a winning dunk that isn't just a "guy jumps over something" slam.