I Am CP3, Human-Cyborg.. [Howard]

April 24 schedule:
Miami@Philadelphia (3-0)
Boston@New York (3-0)
Orlando@Atlanta (1-2)
Lakers@New Orleans (2-1)

Miami and Boston are looking forward to finish early, and noone wants to give the other team a better rest before they meet in the semis. Hence, the Sixers and the Knicks are goners soon. The Sixers lineup and production is too unstable, I don't want them to mess my picks again (::sour grapes::). In the Knicks I only have Amare and Billups left worth picking, and both are injured. Amare sucked so bad the last 2 games -- I can only wish I picked him in Game 1 for 41 PRA. Oh well.

But there are two players that are more than worthy for this date: Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Both players' Game 4 and Game 5 fall on same dates. If both teams go down Sunday 1-3 in their respective series, I don't want to end up choosing between these two players for Tuesday. So I am picking one of them now.

Orlando's Game 5 will be at home so I am picking him then as he will work his ____ not to be eliminated. (Sidenote: I also realize I may not be able to pick Jameer, but they may be able to force a Game 6).

I said I'll pick CP3 in Game 4 for probably his last home game as a Hornet (before becoming a Knick?), and nothing has changed that. First time in a few days I'm happy with my pick. Let's go!
Week 2, April 24:
Chris Paul

UPDATE: Jason Richardson's suspension changes my pick today as the Magic will miss his points and rebounds. While Redick and Quentin can pick up the points, some of the rebounds will surely go to Dwight. Missing Jason also means more probability that the Magic will lose this game. This Jason situation, I reckon, is more important than today being possibly CP3's last home game as a Hornet. Not to mention CP3 having a fresh thumb injury. So..
Week 2, April 24:
Dwight Howard

Win, Lose or Ty.. Grab a Miller Lite

April 23 schedule:
Chicago@Indiana (3-0)
Dallas@Portland (2-1)
San Antonio@Memphis (1-1)
Oklahoma City@Denver (2-0)
Week 1, April 23:
Ty Lawson
Indiana is in the verge of being eliminated, so one would have thought that a Pacer is the wisest pick. However, Danny Granger is by now picked in most leagues, and there are no other Pacer averaging more than 20 PRA. There are still plenty of players above 20 PRA in other losing teams.

Winless Denver will look to score a W at home. As I said before in the comments, I will pick Nene next. However, he is listed day-to-day with a groin injury. Plowing through the Nuggets roster I find Ty Lawson who likes to play at home, scoring 3 more points in average than when he's on the road. I should be getting anywhere between 21 and 25 PRA from him. I really need it! ::crossfingers::

Other notable possible picks:
Andre Miller - will save him for Game 5@Dallas. Go Mavs!
Gerald Wallace - stats fluctuate. As I said, coach does not run most plays through him
Marc Gasol and Mike Conley - series is still even at 1-1, so will have to wait
Nene - stay tuned right before the game if there's news that he'll play. If he does, we're changing the pick to him.

UPDATE: Arron Afflalo will play and might start in game 3. This changes the setting. I did further research and worked out the game logs and stats, when Ty and Arron played together as starters and also when Arron was injured and inactive. It turns out that Ty is less effective with Arron, than without him. The amount of games involved are not that many, but I'm not going against the numbers when I see them. So I am changing my pick to..
Week 1, April 23:
Andre Miller

Can We Afford Horford?

April 22 schedule:
Boston@New York (2-0)
Orlando@Atlanta (1-1)
LA@New Orleans (1-1)
Week 1, April 22:
Al Horford
The obvious play here is to pick Melo if you have not yet done so, while Chauncey is still hurt. Amare is still healing from back pains so he will not be 100%. For me, I would like to save Amare for an elimination game.

Another option for you is of course Chris Paul. Lakers limited him in Game 2 and he will be looking to pay back at home in New Orleans. Make no mistake, he will give you the points you need. But consider this.. wouldn't he play more aggressively in his last potential game in New Orleans? ;) That is why I am saving him for Game 4 or 6, before he goes to free agency.

Also now that Orlando showed up some muscle, we are ready to pick a Hawk. There are 4 Hawks that are pick-worthy: Joe (30.5), Jamal (28.5), Josh (25.5) and Al (23.5). You can roll a dice and pick whoever, and it wouldn't matter much. Even if they win, you still have 3 Hawks available for the rest of the playoffs. I would like to nitpick though on their records at home versus away. Joe is same home and away, and he is not necessarily the fans' darling. Jamal plays better on the road; and Josh plays the same anywhere so you can pick him. According to the split stats, Al Horford plays much much better at home, scoring 4 more points. He also plays PF in this series as they want Collins wasting fouls on Dwight; so expect Al to run Bass down the court.

Rock Me A Thaddeus

First, let me just say.. whoa Melo! 42 Points! 17 Rebounds! 6 Assists. Sure was good timing to pick him in Game 2, with Billups out and Amare's back spasms. Not to mention the Celtics winning and going 2-0.

Now, on April 21, games being played are 2-0 series, so it's easy to single out the Sixers, Pacers and Blazers. If you haven't picked LaMarcus yet, go pick him up as he is the still the top performer among these 3 teams. If you already picked him, go with Granger as he is the next best thing.

Since I already picked those two guys, this date's pick is tricky. The spread-the-wealth tactic would tell me to pick a Sixer. Iguodala is still being clamped down by the Miami defense, and I would wait for him to have one good game first before I pick him. Brand will be able to come back from a 3-point performance and he plays better at home than away (2 points diff) so expect him to be pumped up in Game 3 in front of the home crowd. However, I am not picking Brand yet, as I want to bet on the one consistent player in this series which is Thaddeus Young. He plays well off the bench regardless how Brand plays. We should be able to get somewhere between 24 to 30 PRA from him. It's sad that I am picking a bench player, but for now he is my bet. Besides, he is 3rd in the 6th-man balloting for some reason.

Week 1, April 21:
Thaddeus Young

My alternative pick is Andre Miller. In fact I already chalked him up before changing to Thaddeus. He is also consistent and will get his 18 points (especially likes to exploit Barea's size). If you are not comfortable selecting a Sixer, you can try Andre.

I am not happy with my pick. Actually, I am not happy with the choices on this date. Oh well.. just have to trust the numbers.

Have Some Fetuccini Gallinari

Before discussing my pick for April 20, let's revisit my past picks and where they stand with regards to our strategy of picking the best players (based on PRA) in the losing teams.

In day 1, only Dwight Howard had the better PRA (66) than my pick LaMarcus Aldridge (35) among the losing teams. I still think Orlando will give up a fight, but if they lose the series Dwight would have been the right pick. If Orlando moves on, LaMarcus was the right pick.

In day 2, I picked Zach Randolph (42 PRA), and only Kobe Bryant had a better PRA (43) among the teams that lost that day. Of course, you cannot really expect the defending champion Lakers to lose the whole series. If the Lakers does win the series, Chris Paul would have been the right pick (54).

In day 3, I picked Danny Granger (25 PRA). Notice that 25 is not that high of a PRA, but during that day his was the highest among the losing teams. If the Pacers lose the series (and they will), picking Granger was spot-on.

So as of April 18, this is my standing..
If you look at these other guys' picks, they seem to be following the same strategy as ours. Except maybe for Chris Webber who doesn't have a clue on how to play this game hehe!

Now with my pick... I am not touching the series of Grizzlies@Spurs and Hornets@Lakers by virtue of the uncertainty that was brought about by the game 1 upsets. I'll zoom-in on the Nuggets as the Thunder poise to take that series. Only 2 Nuggets are worth looking at: Nene Hilario (31) and Danilo Gallinari (24). Raymond Felton (22) may be worth the gamble while he is still taking minutes away from the injured Arron Afflalo, but I wouldn't want to bet on someone who comes off the bench.. yet.

Just basing on Game 1's box score, Nene may be the better pick. He played well against the Thunder but I don't think he can repeat that performance vs Perkins. It may be worthwhile to note that Nene's away PRA and career vs the Thunder is only 24. I expect a little letdown as the Thunder adjusts.

Gallinari, on the other hand, has a better away PRA (22.8) than home PRA (21.7). I also think that Arron's absence in the wing makes Gallinari take up the slack, so I am picking up Gallinari before Arron is forced to come back to the lineup. Note that while I'm picking Gallinari, I still predict Nene will have the better PRA on Wednesday. This pick is highly based on the away PRA, and that I'm reserving Nene for a home game when I can get more benefit from him. It's all in the timing.

Week 1, April 20:
Danilo Gallinari

You Melo Too Much You Ripen and Rot

Week 1, April 19: Carmelo Anthony

In light of Orlando's loss Saturday, a lot of people jumped off the Orlando ship and is picking Dwight Howard. I, however, believe that there will still be plenty of time in the series to pick Dwight/Jameer or Joe/Josh/Al. If Orlando loses Game 2, then we're picking Jameer on Game 3 and Dwight on Game 4. If they win, then we pick a Hawk.

If you haven't picked a Blazer yet, do pick LaMarcus Aldridge now (for explanation, see my first pick -- should be the same in Game 2). He's the only wise pick this early in that team. If like me you already picked him, then pick a Knick.

With the Knicks, only Amare and Carmelo are worth picking. Amare is a good pick, but his home record is better than his away record so I want to pick him on either Game 3 or Game 4 (elimination game the better) where he will work hard to even the series while in the Garden. On the side, I think they cannot get past the Celtics. They gave up too much in the Melo trade, that it will take next year for them to be a legit threat (Chris Paul perhaps?).

So I am left with Carmelo. He is not a bad pick for tomorrow. You know he will produce more because Game 2 will be a statement game for him. He scored only 15 points in Game 1 (way below his average) and he would want to bounce back. A PRA of less than 35 will be a disappointment.

Clear and Present Granger

The Bulls and the Heat seems to be handling their own series well at 1-0 (Game 1 winners go on to win the series 78% of the time), so we should pick from either the Sixers or the Pacers.

From the Sixers, the choice pick is Elton Brand. He only grabbed a PRA of 24 on Game 1 but 20% of the people thinks he will play better on Game 2; also none of the top 3 Sixers play better on the road but Elton is the closest to consistent on either home or road. Surprisingly, Thaddeus Young got 32 PRA in Game 1 -- you may pick him but I don't think he will again have that chance. If you already picked Elton Brand, you might as well go for a Pacer.

From the Pacers,  it's either Danny Granger or Darren Collison who posted PRA of 33 and 32, respectively. Darren plays better at home, so I will pick him later at Game 3 or 4 of the series. Granger is pretty consistent: home or road; so I am leaning more on him (and so does 21% of the people). NBA.com's expert picked Tyler Hansbrough maybe because he played well the last game. He does post 20 PPG this season against the Bulls, but with Granger and Darren still available, he will have to wait.

The Sixer's situation to me is too unpredictable, especially that you never know when Iguodala will shrug off his injury and take all the stats. If you think Iggy is still far from recovery, go pick Elton. But for me right now, my pick goes to..

Week 1, April 18: Danny Granger

If and only if you hate Miami and love the Sixers, go and pick Lebron James. Dwayne Wade didn't practice because of migraine and combine that with Wade's poor performance in Game 1, The Decision will hog the stats on Game 2. Note: If and only if you hate Miami and love the Sixers.

Have fun picking!

So far LA and Z-Bo..

And since we started this blog before Day 3, I'm going to show first how I am going so far..

Week 1, April 16: LaMarcus Aldridge (35 PRA)
Week 1: April 17: Zach Randolph (42 PRA)

To tell you honestly Day 1 was a rush pick, but it is a pick I am comfortable with. I forgot to register early and on the day itself, I woke up in the middle of the third game. At that point, only the fourth game Portland@Dallas remains, and since I am a huge Mavericks fan, I went on to pick Aldridge. I knew he plays well against Dallas (he's been killing us all season) and that he lives in Dallas and will want to play well in front of his family especially his sick mom. He did play well and had gazillion lob dunks, and threatened to own Game 1. Fortunately Dallas won, so the pick was okay. NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski predicted Portland in 4.. yeah right!

On Day 2, I thought Memphis and New Orleans were the underdog, and the other two matches were too close for a call this early. So it was a choice between Chris Paul and Zach. According to season stats, Zach plays better on the road than Paul, and I figured Zach will eat up the bigs of the Spurs. Well he did. But as you know I was wrong in a few points at my logic for this date. First, Memphis and New Orleans won against Spurs and Lakers respectively (yay for Dallas!) so the Zach pick was premature. Second, Chris Paul played well on the road with a 54 PRA, something I think he will never reach again against the Lakers.

Oh well, we are still on track. Everytime my pick exceeds 30 that's not so bad. So here is the latest tally:

Welcome to the NBA.com Drive to the Finals 2011 Blog :P

Welcome to the 2011 edition of the daily Drive to the Finals blog. Each day, I'll provide you with my pick for the day. I am looking to partially replace the good 'ol NBA.com Expert Pick articles which by the way is nowhere to be found this year. I've been playing this game for the last 2 years, and last year I finished in the 95th percentile of all the people playing this game (the experts boast of 99th percentile). I am aiming to raise my standing this year, and in the process help you with your picks and raise your own standing.

I am a numbers man and mostly base my picks on statistics first, knowledge of the news second, and feel last. I will no longer explain how to play the game as I assume my readers already know. But basically our strategy is in Round 1 to Conference Finals, we will pick players from teams which we think will lose. Of course, we will be proven wrong in certain points of the playoffs, and during those times we will adjust accordingly.

I will also compare my standing with that of the expert pickers (Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and newcomer Chris Webber). Throughout the past years, Ernie's picks are the best (at one point he was accused of cheating hehe) while Barkley's are the worst (sorry Barkley, you were never good at betting ;)

Here's hoping to have fun this playoffs. Let's go Mavs!