Thompson, Irving load up for downtown duel

Thompson, Irving load up for downtown duel

With Stephen Curry out of the mix this time around, a lot of people feel compelled to classify the 2017 3-point contest as a wide-open affair. Klay Thompson would beg to differ.

The event’s defending champion will exchange long-distance bombs with 2013 winner Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry, among others, tonight in New Orleans. Online sports book gives Thompson odds of +110 to become the first back-to-back victor since Jason Kapono in 2007 and 2008. Irving (+400) and Portland’s C.J. McCollum (+700) are also viewed favorably heading into the festivities at the Smoothie King Center.

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While Curry and Kevin Durant usually spearhead Golden State’s offensive efforts, Thompson’s more than capable of filling it up with the best of them. The Washington State product torched Indiana for an NBA season-high and career-best 60 points on Dec. 5, knocking down eight treys. He’s converting 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Not many experts hold Irving’s stroke in the same esteem. Then again, very few individuals have the ability to get as unconscionably hot as No. 2, either. The flat-earth truther has hit at least three triples in 19 of Cleveland’s first 55 tilts. Last June’s heroics vs. the Warriors solidified his reputation as a clutch performer, too.

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At the beginning of the year, Lowry (+900) could hardly grab a piece of the spotlight from fellow Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan. Now, Dwane Casey’s floor general finds himself with 185 3-pointers, good for the third-most in the league. Houston’s Eric Gordon (+900) lurks directly behind Lowry with 184. McCollum, the Lakers’ Nick Young (+900), Charlotte’s Kemba Walker (+1200) and Dallas’ Wesley Matthews (+1200) round out the field.

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Thompson and Irving may represent the frontrunners, but Curry’s absence clearly adds a layer of unpredictability here. We actually like Lowry to bounce one of the two favorites en route to reaching the finals. In the end, however, it’s admittedly difficult to go against a Splash Brother.

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