That's A Wrap!

Points: 1,101
Rank: 2,925
Percentile: 87%

Not bad, but it can be better. This year's DTTF for me is full of disappointing production from my picked players. The NBA.com expert can say the same way for himself, bowing out of the competition with 80% last June 3. The TNT guys bowed out in May 23 with Ernie Johnson edging out Charles Barkley, and leaving behind Kenny Smith and Chris Webber.

Meanwhile, dorancy2000 skipped past Shanks014 in the last day to win $25,000 towards a purchase of a new car on AutoTrader.com. Congratulations dorancy2000 for winning by 1 point!

I would have to give credit to the Heat. They defied odds (and hate) and got into the Finals, and made it extremely hard for the Mavericks. With LeBron, Wade and Bosh on board for the next few years, I'm sure they'll bag a trophy or two.

And of course my Mavericks. Oh yeah! I was just lucky to have followed the Mavs throughout the years since Cuban, Dirk, Nash and Nelson guided this club. Like Dirk and Terry, the last five years have been hurtful for me; we're now truly healed. I was trying very hard not to jinx them in my blogs. Believe me, I passed up on several side stories in this Finals series. Way to go Dirk! That's a lot of demons you guys purged for us Mavs fans. Thank you!

As for this blog, 8,593 pageviews isn't a lot, but I'm happy with it. This is goodbye to all our readers spread all over the globe: United States, Australia, Philippines, Canada, Germany (who btw sprung up in the Finals), Spain, Iceland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and some more countries that Blogspot cannot display for me.

See you guys and gals again next year. Ciao!

Random Stuff

Next game is potentially the last game of the series, and in the Drive To The Finals everyone is forced to put their best remaining player forward to get that last bit of PRA.

For a few at the top of the standings, it's a battle of Chalmers versus Barea to get that Autotrader prize. BTW, I am rooting for Shanks014 who turned out to be my kababayan (fellow countrymen). Go Shanks, proudly Pinoy!

For the rest of us, it's about getting that sprint towards the finish line just to see how we can fare against the others.

For some of the leagues, it's about getting to page 1 of that league. In one league, a father and son duo accepted my challenge for a race, and they have constantly had me eating their dust. I just need 3 more PRA as I pit whoever I pick against their Bibby, Haslem or Miller. Whatever happens, it's been fun trying to catch them.

For Mavs fans in DTTF (go Mavs!), it's about feeling good about picking a Mav in Game 6 or feeling antsy about picking a Heat (so anti-climactic).

For Heat fans in DTTF, it's about being forced to pick their best player (most probably one of the Big 3) even as they continue to hope the series won't end for them abruptly.

For me, it's about getting as high as I can to set a bar to beat for next year's DTTF.

Here are the PRA power rankings for your reference, pick the best player available to you..

Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, JJ Barea, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Mike Bibby, DeShawn Stevenson, and the rest.

There are 2600+ drivers picking from the Big Three and 400+ for Dirk. Good for them to have that player saved for this game. Picking Chalmers next.

The Playoff Pest

Last week, a few blogs ago, I mentioned that JJ Barea performed well in the early games of the previous three series, and that he should be picked early. I was wrong though. JJ early on in this series has struggled and is taking time to heat up. Very uncharacteristic of him.

Look at his PRA for the past four games: 5, 9, 9, 15. Starting Game 4 helped him a lot. His penetration caused the Heat to collapse on him, paving the way for those assists to Mavs' shooters. I am picking him now while he is in the upward trend, and while he is at home.

Week 8, June 9:
Jose Juan Barea

His PRA is not that great, but we are running on fillers late this stage in DTTF.

An alternative for you is DeShawn Stevenson. His move from starter to bench have actually helped him. His Game Four 15 PRA is the most he has gotten this postseason.

Good luck!

Neck-To-Neck

Looking at the DTTF leaderboard, it's a tight race between these drivers..

1 Shanks014 S. Marion (20) 1,251
2 rltwin25 T. Chandler (30) 1,248
3 dorancy2000 T. Chandler (30) 1,243
4 gabri96 T. Chandler (30) 1,240
5 jcrt12 T. Chandler (30) 1,237
6 kwdunk T. Chandler (30) 1,231

Before Game 4, Shanks014 was leading by double-digits, and had Chandler and Marion available. You can see that Chandler was the best pick of Game 4 relative to his average PRA. That 30-PRA catapulted those five people into the top seats, just a little short of Shanks014's . If Shanks014 have chosen Chandler, then he would be keeping his double-digit lead. Since that was not the case, then we're expecting a neck-to-neck race up to the home stretch.

I only looked at the Top 3's picks, and it seems that Shanks014 still has the upper hand with Chandler available for the picking, while rltwin25 and dorancy2000 already picked him, Marion, Terry, Kidd, Dirk and the Big 3. Chandler can get about 20 PRA for Game 5 and I believe Shanks014 will be going with him. If anyone from the rest of that pack has Dirk, Lebron or Dwyane, then they can catch up and steal that car.

The rest of the fillers are inconsistent, and one cannot know what PRA one will get. I think this will now go down to luck. Unless one of these people is actually Marty McFly ;)

Good luck to you top drivers. May you pick the right players at the right time.

Who's Hot, Who's Not

Hot..
  • Nowitzki -- only bright spot in the Mavs' offense
  • Marion -- making most of his time on the court, both ends
  • Wade -- playing like it's 2006
Not..
  • Terry -- not so Mr. Fourth Quarter, yet
  • Barea -- still missing in action
  • Bosh -- 31% shooting
  • LeBron -- 24, then 20, then 17 points
17 points may be a lot for the an average NBA player in the Finals, but you see LeBron is supposed to be scoring around 30. Critics are asking LeBron about his dip in stats these series. Marion has been doing a good job on keeping him in check. But another thing he's doing is deferring to Wade, maybe as an answer to previous criticism that he's holding the ball too much in the previous series. Have you seen him in Game 3 late in the game being passed the ball only to give it back to Wade quickly?

Then why am I picking a player who's not hot?

Week 8, June 7:
LeBron James

Because I believe LeBron is a person who likes shutting off his critics. And throughout these playoffs, he has come back from relatively low-scoring games to score the next game like he's battling the Cavs.

The Matrix

Game 4's hot pick is Shawn Marion, with 3000+ drivers selecting him.

He didn't earn the nickname Matrix for nothing. Remember how Keanu Reeves was able to do everything in that movie series? That's Marion per se. Scoring, rebounding, defense. Name it, he's all over.

The Mavs use him to guard the opposing team's best player -- from the Kobes to the Kevins of this league. In this Finals series, he is guarding LeBron a.k.a Mr. Smith. His minutes parallel that of the opposing player, so in these Finals his minutes are up in the 40s per game because LeBron plays those many minutes (tops among the Heat).

So far he has done a decent job containing Lebron and is continuing to do better at it. LeBron's points have dwindled from 24, then 20, to 17. LeBron can only be stopped in a half-court setup, where Marion has minimized those penetrations.

I've already used Marion, but for those of you who still has him, go ahead and pick him. You're assured at least that he will get the most minutes.

Best Mavs Center Ever!

When I first became a fan of the Mavs, it was Shawn Bradley manning the middle. Well, yeah you can count on him to rack up those blocks, but to me he was not able to capitalize on his height with his offense. We still love him though. Don Nelson likes them tall and skinny centers.

The Mavs thereafter experimented with many centers (count Dirk in too.. wait, maybe he's the best Mavs center ever hehe!), until Avery Johnson rallied to get Erick Dampier and locked-in for too many years. Damp was a big body needed in a time when Shaq was on his prime. He received the most criticism, but he was serviceable at best (although inconsistent). Now he is in the Heat's roster. Hmm.. is Spoelstra worried that putting Damp in the game will be like placing a scorpion on his own plate?

Then last season before the trade deadline, we got Brendan Haywood. A younger and better version of Dampier, he showed enough promise that he was signed to a multi-year contract last summer. Here's a center young enough to grow with the Mavs as their starter. Well, not so fast.

Then.. a few days later, Michael Jordan with his team-managing prowess (not!) traded an often-injured Tyson Chandler to Damp's big and expiring contract. Talk about a steal. Chandler, now healthy, is rejuvenated and instantly became the Mavs' anchor in defense. Dirk said Chandler is the most positive person he knows. Not only is he the most athletic center the Mavs ever had, but he is the consumate locker guy. And now in DTTF, Finals Game 3, I am picking him.

Week 8, June 5:
Tyson Chandler

Last November 27, with Dallas hosting Miami, Chandler posted 14 points and 17 rebounds! Those are the numbers I hope he will get in Game 3 (hey, wishing is free, right?). Note that Haywood is still day-to-day with his strained right hip flexor. That will surely get Chandler more minutes in Game 3 as long as he stays out of foul trouble.

Knocks on wood.

Home Sweet Home

No, I'm not even mentioning any of the Mavs in this blog entry. This is all about Chris Bosh.

Yes, Bosh breathes Dallas basketball. Hard to believe? He was born a Texan and was a high school basketball hero there. You can read more of it here. But more importantly he will receive some home cooking that will definitely refresh him. He likes playing in Dallas and will surely have a good game with several of his relatives in the crowd. His game logs show it. He will perform.

Season Date Pts Reb Ast PRA
2010-2011 Nov-27 22 8 2 32
2009-2010 Nov-07 26 12 1 39
2008-2009 Mar-01 28 10 2 40
2007-2008 Nov-20 31 12 1 44
2006-2007 Nov-29 18 11 2 31
2005-2006 Feb-25 29 13 2 44
2004-2005 Mar-07 13 8 1 22
2003-2004 Dec-15 14 8 3 25

For the 14% of the drivers who haven't picked him yet, this is your chance. There are 3 Dallas games available. Isn't that what the strategy in the Finals say? Best PRA available playing at "home". Pick away.


Chris Bosh

The Master Picks

The potential 40+ PRA picks are almost spent. That's Dirk, LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh. Despite the hate, several drivers were able to hold on to at least two of the Big Three, long enough for them to be available in the Finals. The way the 3 previous series went helped with the pick decisions. With the best player at home strategy in the Finals, the Big Three has been popular picks in Game 1 and 2 in Miami. In the next 3 games (and 2 possible ones), based on the DTTF site, the top 5 popular picks doesn't involve any of them. LeBron has 19% drivers left to pick him, D-Wade has 10%, and Bosh 14%. These drivers like me (I have LeBron left) are holding on to the last pie for that elims game. Or until we can no longer hold it in ;)

Dirk has 30% drivers left to pick him, and he is the hot pick for Game 3 with 21%. Dirk has been great in the 4th quarter of Game 2, and that was an indication that his mallet finger was not as big as issue like what we thought it would be. 2 of his last 3 shots were made with his left injured finger. Not to mention the final dribble with his left hand. (BTW, I did not see him celebrating that finger roll.)

Hot Pick
Dirk Nowitzki

Pick Dirk quick.

The Injury Effect

There are two players with minor injury each that people are saying may affect their play. This is the time to look at how these will affect the PRAs of other players.

First up is Mike Miller's arm. He says it's fine but also we have read news articles where his teammates said he was playing some minutes in Game 1 with one arm. It's far from being serious as Rondo's injury, but I am sure that will affect his minutes. Coach Spoelstra will be watching him closely. This would mean more minutes for Wade and Mario Chalmers -- both of whom had a great Game 1. Feel free to pick the best among them if they are still available to you.

Next is Dirk's middle finger on his left guide hand. Unlike Miller's injury, this can have larger effect on the rest of the Mavs. I still think he will get his minutes. It is just a question on how many touches. Other Mavs would have to carry the scoring load. If you still have Kidd, pick him as he will assert himself into scoring as he did in the Portland series.

Somebody should also carry the inside scoring in lieu of Dirk's mini injury. That is why I am picking..
Week 7, June 2:
Shawn Marion

Shawn had 30 PRA in Game 1 and before that a great outing on the Thunder close-out game. Even without Dirk's injury, I have already lined him up for the picking. Moreso now that he should get more touches as the guards will spread the feed among him and Dirk. I also know that Shawn plays well in South Beach; he showed that in their lone game there in the regular season, and again in Game 1. Here's hoping he gets the same result in Game 2.

Sidenote: Why am I not excited about Ricky Rubio agreeing to play next season? I should be. That's Kevin Love and Rubio. But I'm not. I think Rubio is too hyped.

Mario Brothers

Mario Chalmers
Udonis Haslem

Coach Spoelstra is never afraid to milk his Big Three and play them tirelessly. In fact, LeBron played a whooping 45 minutes in Game 1. This, you may think, leaves less minutes for the bench.. not. Coming into this series, they were saying that it is their bench who can make a difference in this series. So far the Heat's bench have not disappointed yet.

Mario Chalmers to me was the X-factor in Game 1. He scored 12 points, and without these and the 3-pters he made, we could be looking at 1-0 series on the other end. It seems that the Mavs are leaving Mario free on pick-and-rolls, and in some plays letting him unguarded in the corner three. If this continues, Mario will see some more of these threes.

Udonis Haslem was the hard-worker on defense, that is why he was let to play more minutes guarding Dirk. His production, 7 points and 6 rebounds, is modest and still better than other fillers in this series. It seems the Heat likes him very much so look for him to see more minutes for the rest of this series.

Both bench-players Mario and Luigi Udonis played around 29 minutes each. In comparison with starters, Bibby played 14 minutes and Anthony played 18 minutes. If you already used the Big 3, Dirk and Terry before, feel free to choose either Mario and Udonis in Game 2, especially if your strategy is to pick players playing at home. Treat them as if they are getting starter minutes.

Good luck to us all.

Too Late To Pick Bosh?

NBA.com Expert Pick
Chris Bosh

Here is Bosh's split statistics..
2011 Playoffs         PRA 28.7 (18.6/8.9/1.1)
Series vs the Bulls   PRA 30.8 (22.0/7.6/1.2)
Season Home           PRA 29.5 (19.2/8.6/1.7)
Season Away           PRA 28.3 (18.2/8.1/2.0)
Season vs the Mavs    PRA 29.5 (20.5/8.0/1.0)
Season Away @ Dallas  PRA 32.0 (22.0/8.0/2.0)
Season Home vs Dallas PRA 27.0 (19.0/8.0/0.0)

The reason I showed these is that Bosh's production doesn't seem to follow a trend nor pattern. In the regular season, he is only slightly better at home than away, but against the Mavs he was better away. Note though that they played the Mavs only twice so we can't really depend on that statistic.

One statistic I would like to highlight is his series with the Bulls. Of the 15 games he played so far in these playoffs, he only had two breakthrough games with 30+ points and both were against the Bulls. Aside from those, he was average in most games, and was below average in about 3 games (2 against the Celtics). That is why it may be too late to pick him as his best series may already be behind him.

For those who are following what the NBA.com Expert picked, he has elected to go with Chris Bosh this game. I am not sure why, but maybe because Bosh is his best available player. He already exhausted picks to James, Wade and Nowitzki in previous rounds.

The Mavs used a lot of zone defense during the regular season for which James and Wade shot poorly against. Bosh though was the one who kept on defeating that zone which explains his high PRA against the Mavs. While this does not tell you when to pick him, this does tell you that you are safe to pick Bosh without the need to second guess if he will produce or not. Surely, he will produce here in this series.

Here is a wonderful article from CNNSI discussing what happens when the Heat has the ball. It gives a lot of kudos to Bosh and how he will thrive in this series.

For those who are deliberating when to pick James and Dirk, you can add the factor of history in their only Finals appearance.
  • James got swept by the Spurs in 2007, so he'll want to get 1 game win ASAP. So Game 1.
  • Dirk in 2006 never won in Miami, so he will be wanting to get 1 road game. So Game 1.
Oh okay that didn't help hehe! Just messing with your head. I also know that James is a show-off and plays better on the road, so I will be picking him later in Dallas.

My pick for this game...
Week 7, May 31:
Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade is nursing a shoulder injury that he and his coach say is not bothering him. A friend who follows the Heat religiously told me that Wade had his shoulder corrected during the rest between the series. I am guessing he went to a physio and had some nerves pinched. Shrugs, I am not sure. What I know is that his shoulder will not get a better rest during this series than what was given to it these past few days. So that shoulder, in theory, will perform better early and will degrade as the series drags along.

If you are still not sure who to pick, go with the player with the best PRA. Good luck with your pick!

Mr. Universe

These Finals, I will be discussing two to three picks leading to a game, with the latest to reveal my own pick. I hope this helps my readers more with their picks as I put more detail on each player.

Today I will be discussing Jose Juan Barea.
Jose Juan Barea

The Mavericks are an efficient jump-shooting team and so opposing teams play like they are against one. But when JJ comes in, everything is disrupted as he uses his penetration to fish a foul, score or kick out to shooters. JJ is a penetrator first. He has shown this all his career: in college, in the NBA and in international competition.

In the Portland series, JJ averaged four points, was shooting a poor 32%, but did get to the foul line 2 to 4 times in the first three games of that series. For the rest of the series, he didn't get even a single free throw attempt. Aldridge adjusted well to both defending Dirk and Barea's drive.

In the Lakers series, JJ was phenomenal! He was scoring 48% and the Lakers were only able to stop him in Game 3, but he was smoking in every game especially in the last game with 22 points (14 attempts, 64%) and 8 assists. The Lakers adjusted to him in Game 3 but forgotten all about him again in Game 4.

In the Thunder series, JJ came out of the gates roaring in Game 1 with 21 points, showing no rust from the long rest. He did okay in Game 2, but after that the Thunder adjusted. JJ have never seen the light of the basket since, until their win in Game 5.

The Mavs play three types of pick-and-rolls, one with Kidd (ending in a 3), one with Terry (ending in a mid-range jumper) and one with Barea (ending in a drive). Opposing teams do not know how to defend against the Barea pick-and-roll because JJ is so good at it. And when they do adjust to it (mostly letting Dirk free), they pay the price and then resort to the original plan against the pick. Here is a nice CNNSI article about it -- http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2011/05/27/finals-preview-when-dallas-has-the-ball/

Trends in the game logs show the best time to pick him is in Game 2 of a series. But I reckon he'll do better in Game 1 because the Heat is better in adjusting faster to the situation. Your call.

Next blog will be about a Heat player.

Top 10 Disappointments

We have pumped our fists high with 50+ PRAs. And we have anguished over 10+ PRAs. Here is, to present tonight's Top Ten List,...

David Letterman

Top 10 disappointing picks in this year's Drive To The Finals. Here we go...

#10. Carmelo Anthony (Round 1, Game 1, Knicks@Celtics) -- You expect Melo to step-in and show the world what the future of New York basketball will be. He averaged 36 PRA in the regular season. His PRA in this game: a measly 23 PRA (15 points). Four thousand drivers picked him this game, that's 1/5th of the driver base. Argh!

#9. The Hawks (Round 2, Game 6, Bulls@Hawks) -- Down 1-3, a staggering 8600+ of the drivers (43%) picked from the losing team with either Jeff Teague (19%), Al Horford (14%) or Jamal Crawford (10%). Their respective PRAs? 9, 12 and 11. Ouch!

#8. Zach Randolph (Round 1, Game 2, Grizzlies@Spurs) -- After scoring an outstanding 42 PRA in Game 1, 3800+ drivers jumped in and picked him the next game. Then he stunk it up and scored a low 19 PRA. Doh!

#7. Taj Gibson (Round 3, Game 4, Bulls@Heat) -- Now only 12% picked him this game, but who would have thought he'll get 1 rebound? In 9 minutes! You might as well not picked any player that day! Coach Thibs, what happened? Hmm?

#6. Carlos Boozer (Round 3, Game 5, Heat@Bulls) -- Boozer had PRAs of 44 and 34 before this game. Playing an elimination game at home and seemingly figured out the Heat defense, you'd expect him to be better. Then.. 5 points and 6 rebounds. The victim? Me, the NBA.com expert, and 3200+ drivers. Sheesh!

#5. Serge Ibaka (Round 3, Game 5, Thunder@Mavs) -- Facing elimination and having scored a 28 PRA the game prior, 3600+ drivers including me picked him. Well, Nick Collison stole his minutes as the better defender on Dirk. Serge? Only 2 points and 3 rebounds. It hurt!

#4. Elton Brand (Round 1, Game 2, Sixers@Heat) -- 3800+ drivers expected the Sixers to lose this series, so Brand was supposed to be a safe pick. Well, yes the Sixers lost this game and later the series, but the 3 points Elton produced this game is horrendous! Nyaaaa!

#3. Dwight Howard (Round 1, Game 5, Hawks@Magic) -- 11200+ drivers picked him this game because they were facing elimination. If you pick Dwight in an elimination game, you expect to see a monster with double-double figures! Well, the Dwight was light and became Elmo with 8 points and 8 rebounds. Nyek!

#2. The Lakers (Round 2, Game 4, Lakers@Mavs) -- Facing a sweep, you'll expect Kobe and company to give it their all so 13000+ drivers picked either Kobe or Bynum. Well, it's one of the most lopsided games in the playoffs. In a 122-86 loss, Kobe scored only 17 points and Bynum got 6 points and 6 rebounds. Definitely not the show-time Lakers.

#1. The Spurs (The Playoffs) -- There are no particular game to point at, in fact their Big 3 produced to expectations in each of the games. But the series loss caused a lot of ripples in this Drive To the Finals game. Several drivers expected the Spurs to win this series, so in the whole round 13400+ picked opposing Zach and 7400+ picked Marc Gasol. The loss of these two, forced many drivers to pick Durant and Westbrook in Round 2 even if the Thunder were the favorites to win. And then the loss of these two young guns forced many drivers to pick Nowitzki in Round 3 even if the Mavs were the favorite in that series. And finally in these Finals, where the only players left in the Western Conference Finals for most drivers are fillers. Aiyaiyaiyaiyay Spurs!

So.. what's your Top 3?

The Finals Are Set!

The Dallas Mavericks facing the Miami Heat.

Take time to take our survey if you have not yet --->
Who would you root for? Or who would you like to lose? Love and hatred are two different things you know ;)

For this Drive to the Finals game, I have these people left..
  • Surefire: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James
  • Gets there: Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler
  • Might get there: J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic
  • Filler: Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem
Who do you have left?

Of course, the strategy of picking the best player on losing team does not work in the Finals anymore. This is when we reap the rewards for holding our bladder earlier in the playoffs, saving the players for this moment of picking. What most of the people as I read will do is pick the best player at home games. I will be doing the same but tweak it a little based on a player's split statistics - home or away record versus the opponent. Keep track of news also, e.g. Wade with slight injury during Game 5 with the Bulls. Watch a lot of NBA interview videos and look for signs of emotions. Maybe I will blog one day trying to interpret a player's emotion in an interview, look for lies and bluffs, and how that will affect the next game (I will try to re-view some Lie To Me episodes).

This is also the stage of the game where most of the people up in the DTTF rankings have no stars left to pick. Current top ranker kburris123 for example already used Dirk/Terry and Wade/James. I am betting most of those people in that page 1 have no all-star left to use. A lot will scramble for picks using role-players. If this is a foot race, it is now time to sprint!

Come back next blog as David Letterman gives us the Top Ten Disappointments In Drive To The Finals so far... not!

Welcome Back To The Finals, Mavs!

I need to give credit to the Thunder. Kevin Durant had a great series and I now believe he is unguardable. Yeah I call 3-on-1 unguardable. Durant and Westbrook will get even stronger because of this. It will be hard to keep up with them for the years to come. They made it tough on my Mavs. Real tough! Games 4 and 5 should be Ws for the Thunder, they could have been leading 3-2. But alas, the Mavs prevailed.

What about Dirk? Man, he continues to surprise me. He really wants this. The whole Mavs really want this. See how they all left the court not even letting the ceremony finish? They went straight to the locker room and start talking about the Finals! For them the WCF belt (sorry Durant) is nice, but they want the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. There are no celebrations here. There are four games left to win.

Now, what about the Finals? I previously rooted for the Bulls because I like that match-up, but down 1-3 that's already improbable. Now, I am accepting our fate. If it is the Heat, then the Heat it is. We are now ready to face our demons. Bring it on!

It's gonna be a fun Finals!!!

Boozer Or Noah?

The numbers are against the Bulls. Down 1-3, they have to win all three remaining games in order to advance. Well, do you believe they can do that? No, I don't think so. Even if you're a Bulls fan, you won't admit it, but you know in your heart this is not your year. Rose is still young; he and Boozer have 3 or 4 more years to do it. Just ignore the fact that LeBron and Dwyane will still be together on those same years.

So I still have Boozer and Noah. Which one?
  • Carlos Boozer. 24.9 PRA. 17% owned. NBA.com expert pick.
  • Joakim Noah. 22.0 PRA. 10% owned. NOT an NBA.com expert pick.
Before Boozer had his best outing in Game 3, his average PRA was lower than that of Noah. Just two games in after that, he has gotten two double-double games already. Noah, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. Yes, he will get his double-digit rebounds but he only scores off tip-ins and offensive rebounds. In this regard, Boozer is the clear-cut choice.

However.. I said I will try to avoid the expert pick. Hmm.

Okay.

Week 6, May 26:
Carlos Boozer

Besides, Rose is the most popular pick in this game at 33%. I wish LeBron continues to shut him down.

Air Congo

Was Dirk a monster or what? Dirk scored 40 and Mavs rally down 15 in crunch time to tie it up at end of regulation, and then shut down Durant to win it in overtime. Mavs are up 3-1 and the next game is tough for the Thunder as they go over to Dallas Fort Worth to try to extend the series. Or go home early and watch the Finals from the couch.

My last good Thunder is Serge Ibaka.
Week 6, May 25:
Serge Ibaka

I got to give it to the NBA.com expert and 26% of the owners as they picked Ibaka in Game 4 where he had a double-double 18 points and 10 rebounds. This is the second-highest PRA he got in the postseason. That was a lucky pick. And I hope Ibaka does the same thing for me in Game 5. They are double-teaming Durant a lot and most of the time Ibaka is left open to knock down those jump shots.

I would like to spend the rest of this blog entry to give recognition to Serge Jonas Ibaka Ngobila and the work he does off the court to help the children of Africa, giving them a chance to have a better life with more opportunities for education, health, development and more importantly for me, peace.

For more of Serge's charity-related activities, you may visit http://charityprogram.sergeibaka.com/en

God speed!

Beware The Thorn In Rose

Coming into the Conference Finals, I got 4 superstars that I believe will get me boosts in this game: Dirk, LeBron, Dwyane and MVP Derrick. Dirk did that for me in Game 1 pushing me up about +10 in percentile. And with Miami now leading 2-1, I am now forced to play my trump card.
Week 6, May 24:
Derrick Rose

This is the game to pick him. He will not allow the series to go 3-1 in favor of the Heat because deep inside he knows the Bulls cannot recover from that. So he will do all he can to win this game. I do not think Coach Tibs will still pursue the "feed Boozer" game plan because all that did in Game 3 was to go neck-to-neck with the Heat. They want something that will give them the advantage. I am no basketball coach but it is silly at this stage to try something new. It has to be the tried and tested Rose-make-it-happen game plan. I love seeing Rose drive to the basket because it opens up a lot of opportunities: score himself, draw fouls, pass out to shooters like Deng, drop ball to Boozer as Bosh comes to help and double-team. He draws so much attention.

If you believe Tibs will still employ the same Game 3 plan, go ahead and pick Boozer. Just do not pick Noah just yet as he now still contends with that slur issue with a fan - wait until he gets home and away from the hooplah.

The important thing is to start picking Bulls because in a worst case scenario of Heat-in-5 you are left to pick 2 Bulls only. For me, that would be Rose then Noah. If they even the series, then it's back to picking either LeBron or Dwyane for the other scenario of Bulls-in-6.

It's Been A Harden's Night

And he was sleeping like a log. Now, he should be working like a dog.
Week 6, May 23:
James Harden

The Mavs did a good job containing Harden and the Thunder bench. There were times in the first half that he looked lost in offense. Maybe he did wake up in the second half, but alas it was too late and not enough to rally. So I am betting Harden will carry that zest over to the next game, and the first play off the bench will be directed to him to get him going. And on the side wishing they still lose that game so my next pick will be Ibaka, my last good Thunder.

And oh yeah, my CHI-MIA Game 3 pick is..
Week 6, May 22:
Luol Deng

This is an adjustment I am making just for the sake of picking differently from the NBA.com expert who is picking Derrick Rose. Come to think of it, this is not the game where Rose has the best motivation to produce and take over the game by himself. That will be more likely the game after a 1-2 hole or the elimination game (or in Finals Game 1 if that happens). Besides, Coach Tibs was talking about winning as a team and he wanted the rest of the team to play harder, and more importantly stick to the game plan. UPDATE: There's also that 'steroids in NBA' topic that should keep Rose's mind rattled in this game.

Luol Deng is a safe pick for this day. There are no statistics I can see that will give him plus (or minus) in any point of this series, as he has been consistent. I am not worried about him not getting at least his average PRA. He will deliver.

Fingers crossed.

Follow Expert Pick Or Not?

NBA.com's Expert Pick is Derrick Rose.

I initially scheduled Rose to be picked next, but I also said I will be avoiding the expert pick. Granted, Rose is only selected by only 8% (top 4). My alternative is Luol Deng selected at 13% (hot pick and top 3). So it's avoding the expert pick or avoiding the hot pick.

Should I go ahead pick Rose? or change to Deng?

I will postpone my selection until about 9 hours from this time of writing. See you in a few hours.

Bring Out The Jet

The series is even at 1 game apiece. In Game 1, the X-factor was J.J. Barea. In Game 2, it's James Harden. Harden impressed everyone with his 34 PRA that, as of now, almost 30% have already picked him for Game 3. And as promised, I'm straying away from the pack.
Week 5, May 21:
Jason Terry

Jet in Game 1 managed only 8 points in 3 of 9 shooting (9 PRA). A lot of people picked him in Game 2 so that was really unfortunate. Who knew that the Mavs' 2nd scoring option will slump? But let's credit the Thunder who really set out to limit Terry's capability coming into Game 2.

Here.. where will you bet more? Terry still slumping in Game 3, or Harden still doing an imitation of Durant? As the Mavs adjust to Harden and Terry adjust to the defense, I'm expecting both to get back to their average PRAs. I also mentioned before that Terry needs to warm up to get hot later in the series. So after 2 games, that should be enough of a warm-up for him.

For those looking for other players who "may" become an X-factor for Game 3..
  • Barea - great in both games when he was on the floor, but a little benched in Game 2 because Harden was shooting over him. He will still get his 15 points and a few more assists.
  • Chandler - 15 points, 13 rebounds. If the Mavs won, he would have been tagged the X-factor in that game.
  • Kidd - had a fairly good Game 2 but only 3 of 8 from long range. He can do better.
  • Ibaka - he disappeared in Game 2 having to put all energy on defense. He can revisit his offense playing at home.
  • Marion - I saw some plays for him in game 2. He should be able to continue bringing mismatches inside the paint.

Dive Or Soar

My current 88th percentile is below from where I was at this point last year in the Drive To The Finals. Many of the players above me will dip down the rankings because they already picked the best players in Round 1 and 2. Even so, I cannot go higher than 90% if I just go with the flow. Beating last year's 95% is now far from my reach, so I have decided to make drastic changes to my strategy to this game.

The assumption is that if I keep on selecting the common sense picks (the hot pick and/or the best player), my rate of ascent will be similar to others who will think the same way. If the NBA.com expert (drukman23) picks Terry for May 19 and if 20% of the people follows, there are 2 options leading to 4 results (Note: presume we are all within 88%)..
  • Pick Terry
    • If he exceeds expectations, all us 20% soars in unison
    • If he plays poorly, all us 20% dives in unison
  • Pick someone else
    • If Terry performs better than my pick, the other 20% soars pass me
    • If my pick performs better, I soar pass the other 20%

Joining a bandwagon will not give me any advantage. It is only in being different will I have a chance of getting the upper hand.

However, choosing differently will be a great risk -- dive or soar. The reason I am doing this is that for me this year, 94% and 70% are same. I set out to beat my former 95% and anything short of that is unacceptable. (And because this is a just a free game where I can get into this type of risk).

So, I will deliberately avoid picking the same as the NBA.com expert, nor select a hot pick. This started with Dirk (not from the losing team), originally LeBron (not a top 2 pick that day), changed to Bosh (not a hot pick either), and next with Kidd (not in top 2 most popular). The Dirk pick bode well, but the Bosh pick didn't -- that's how risky this route is. Of course, I will still make sure that no matter how unorthodox my pick is, it should still makes sense.

For you, I will still dole out some alternate picks so you can still be guided accordingly. I recommend everyone else to stick to what they think is right. Do not get blinded by any NBA.com expert or any blogger like me. Trust your instincts.

DTTF Superstars put their pens, their papers and their fantasy on the line. They have spent days training and have a month worth of experience. But what entertains you tears their fun apart. So cheer for them, admire them, believe in them, but leave the action to them. Please DO NOT try this at home.

Whining With My Head Cold

Just got tip that LeBron is fighting with a head cold. I understand that because I lost sleep last night with the same problem. (Either that or the Korean barbeque I feasted on yesterday.) Is he playing possum? Bulls will not buy that, by the way. Barkley was right, the Heat are whiners.

So I am changing my pick in the nick of time to Bosh.
Week 5, May 18:
Chris Bosh

Bosh had it going in Game 1 and I am hoping he keeps that groove in this next game.

Or you can follow the expert pick, Wade. He averages about +7 after subpar games this season.

Kidd And His Fresh Legs

Wow!

Dirk Nowitzki
  • 58 PRA, daily point leader for May 17
  • 48 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks
  • made 12 of 15 shots from the field
  • made 24 of 24 free throws, new NBA record without a miss in a game
I was lucky to have picked him in that game. It's been a while since I got the daily point leader. His PRA alone boosted me up +10 percentile in this game. Sweeeeeeeeet!

So who's next for me?
Week 5, May 19:
Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd was supposed to be on top of his game in Game 1 coming off a lengthy rest. Yes he was sharp with 11 assists, but he didn't need to score because his German Wunderkind was on fire! He looked fresh still for another game though. I will look for him to score some as we can't expect Dirk to carry the load. Besides, the Mavs know they cannot win with just Dirk. It has to be more even scoring. The Thunder seems like not the type who will be fooled twice.

I am picking him now before his legs gets tired later in the series.

Alternative picks:
  • Nowitzki or Durant - while each will not score 40 again, you can expect 30+ still. Each is still unguardable.
  • Russell Westbrook - only 3 of 15 from the field. Just imagine if he shot at least half of those, you could be looking at a 34 PRA.
  • Jason Terry (24.1 PRA) - expect another 27+ PRA in Game 2. His mission: outscore OKC's bench.
  • James Harden (21.2) - strategic-wise, still a good pick from the losing team
Risky picks:
(These players got 20+ PRA in Game 1 despite averaging lower in the playoffs.)
  • Shawn Marion (18.4 PRA average, 21 in Game 1) - will always get his rebounds and 10+ points. Get him before Caron Butler returns.
  • Serge Ibaka (17.5, 23) - very active, and able to get his 17 points despite having been assigned to guard Dirk
  • Jose Juan Barea (12.6, 25) - very good Game 1 overshadowed by Dirk's numbers. Riskiest Game 2 pick.

Round 3!.. Fight! [Update]

The Conference Finals are here!

The Heat got a stomping last night from the Bulls. LeBron lost some sleep and when he woke up, somebody drew an L on his forehead. Was he overthinking? Should he be sleeping and resting instead of studying? The Heat's Game 1 loss is not yet assurance of a series loss. Game 2, however, will be crucial. Lose again and the Heat will be on a 0-2 hole that will be hard to crawl up of. Win and the Heat will have the momentum going to South Beach and attempt a 3-1 advantage. While we wait for that, I have the Heat lined up for picking..
May 18:
LeBron James
May 22:
Dwyane Wade
May 24:
Chris Bosh

Prediction (after Bulls won Game 1): Bulls in 7.

75% of those who voted on this blog said the best strategy is to pick the best player from the losing team. That is correct and you should still do that in Round 3, but it will be understandable if you pick from a winning team this round. Just keep in mind to reserve four stars and about two 18-PRA players as backup for the Finals.

I still have the full roster available from the Bulls, Heat and Mavs, and none left from the Thunder except maybe Harden. This forces me to pick the Mavs early, although I predict they will win this series. Assuming the Bulls advance, I am picking Heat players this round, and will be left with only Bulls to pick in the Finals.

UPDATE:
For the DAL-OKC series, I am picking my main man, the Diggler himself.

Week 5, May 17:
Dirk Nowitzki

The Thunder cannot guard him. Jeff Green can guard him some.. oh yeah he got traded. Perkins cannot follow him outside the paint. Look for him to produce aplenty as the Thunder switches a lot of people against him including Durant. I will not be surprised if they opt to let him just score but try to shutdown the rest of the team.

Other alternatives:
  • Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook - If you still have one, pick them outright. Most people used them already.
  • James Harden (21.2) - Most of you still have him. Pick a Thunder and try to save some Mavs for the Finals.
  • Jason Kidd (21.5) - Refreshed from the long rest (swept Lakers!). Always plays well early in the series, as seen versus the Blazers and the Lakers.
  • Jason Terry (24.1) - Number 2 option comes from the bench, but plays a lot of minutes. Owns the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Mavs in 5.

    Call On Thor, God Of Thunder

    This is one of the few moments of this game where you are forced to pick a player from the winning team.. or at least from the team you "think" will win.
    Week 5, May 15:
    Russell Westbrook

    Why? Because it is a game 7! I think the Thunder will win, but (!) I will not risk losing the chance to pick Westbrook with his possible 36 PRA.

    If Thunder loses, the Westbrook pick is spot on.
    If Thunder wins, I get his PRA earlier and would probably pick a 15-PRA player in some point of the next round in exchange. The alternative is Mayo (assume 20 PRA now that he starts) which is just 5-pt difference.

    Westbrook's 36 PRA is too precious to lose in a gamble.

    Note that the Chicago-Miami conference finals starts on the same date. I still have the complete Bulls and the Heat roster available:
    CHI Rose (41.3)
    MIA James (40.4)
    MIA Wade (38.8)
    MIA Bosh (27.0)
    CHI Deng (26.2)
    CHI Boozer (23.1)
    CHI Noah (22.5) <- note this

    If you are forced to pick Mayo (who has lower PRA than Noah), then you might as well start picking from this new series.

    Memphis, Believe

    Do you believe Memphis can win two straight? Do you believe Memphis can win a game in front of the Thunder fans? Yes, and yes! They have already done both in these playoffs; imagining they can is not that hard to do. Well, easy for me to say! I know it is hard but it is possible. They have defied expectations:
    • Won Game 1 in San Antonio
    • Won the San Antonio series in 6
    • Won Game 1 in Oklahoma City
    Tell me if you expected them to do all these.. yeah, I guessed right, you didn't. Tell me you did not pick a Grizzly in Game 1 of Round 1, or in Game 1 in Round 2. Tell me you still have both Zach and Marc available for picking. You don't. The truth is you have to be a die-hard Memphis fan to say all these. Memphis, believe!
    Week 4, May 13:
    Mike Conley

    Like most of you, I only have Conley left to pick from the Grizzlies. Lucky you if you still have Zach or Marc -- pick them outright.

    NOTE: If Hawks beat Bulls in Game 6, and if Grizzlies beat Thunder in Game 6; then both Game 7s will be on the same date (May 15). Will you risk losing the chance to pick either Rose, Durant or Westbrook (if you have them)? My pick plan is this..
    • If Hawks win Game 6, I will change my May 13 pick to Westbrook, and then pick Rose on May 15.
    Honestly, I want the Bulls and the Thunder to finish off their opponents as soon as possible, in their respective Game 6s!