Welcome To The Conference Finals!

So there will be no rest for the Celtics as they go straight to South Beach for a battle with the Heat. Meanwhile, the Thunder and Spurs are revving up for tonight's Game 1 after heaps of rest. This, my friends, is that true time of the year for good competitive basketball. No more lackluster play, at least we hope!

As for DTTF, the West and East games will be played in alternating dates, so this fantasy game now comes down to who are you picking to lose. No more other games to pick from if you are undecided. If in earlier rounds, we waited for a series to finish two games before we pick from them; in these series, we have to pick now. In some aspects, you may find it now simpler. If you are betting on the Thunder to win, go ahead and line up your Spurs for picking. As for me, I am picking the Spurs to win. I have four Thunder already picked in Games 1 to 4. The only way that will ever change is if the Thunder leads 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2. My first pick is Kevin Durant.

With regards to Russell Westbrook (and Tony Parker's remark), I believe three things will happen: (1) Westbrook will push himself to perform well against Parker; (2) Parker and the Spurs will stop him; and (3) Westbrook will be stopped. And that is why I am sticking with the default but tried and tested player, Durant. Heck, even Harden is now more lethal against the Spurs' bench!

The East? Well, my choices are limited. I pick the Heat to win, but I only have Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen left, so expect me to pick Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in this series even if they go to the Finals. As I said before in the comments, I am willing to sacrifice a future round for a much better and more sensible pick now. So I am picking Rajon Rondo in Game 1. Then after that, don't be surprised if I pick from the home team. [UPDATE: Reconsidering. Will reveal final pick on next blog entry.][UPDATE 2: Glad I didn't change, Rondo got the best PRA among my available Celtics.]

Until Biff comes back from the future and dominate DTTF, make mine Marvel!

Pick a Parker, Westbrook, or Not

Hohum, there are no games on this day May 25, which makes it really weird because we always had NBA every day of this lockout-shortened season. Then to suddenly look at the schedule with no NBA.. what are we going to watch?!?! Well, there are lots of baseball going on, but some of us are not interested in that. So here is something to feed your need for some ball, you are going to enjoy this video from ESPN..

Tony Parker has indirectly called out a challenge to Russell Westbrook. And knowing Westbrook, he will not stand pat and wait for him to be trash talked into it.

I am set to pick Kevin Durant in Game 1, but this calling of names had me thinking about picking Westbrook because he may go nuts in Game 1. But do you think it is the right time to pick Westbrook?

Green Got Dimmer

So the Celtics lost Game 6. Let me list my pickables: With the 76ers, I'm left with
  • Spencer Hawes (18 PRA)
  • Elton Brand (12 PRA, inconsistent 23 PRA).
With the Celtics, I'm left with
  • Kevin Garnett (31 PRA) 
  • Rajon Rondo (31 PRA)
  • Brandon Bass (17 PRA)
  • Ray Allen (15 PRA)
Notice that I crossed out Brand (inconsistency) and Allen (mostly 3-pt stats only), just to simplify the case scenarios I will lay out. And note that Garnett and Rondo are interchangeable, but I will use Garnett in these tables..

Game 7 Game 1 Game 2 Total
Pick Garnett Celtics Win Garnett 31 Rondo 31 Bass 17 79
Celtics Lose Garnett 31 Hawes 18 Filler 15 64
Pick Hawes 76ers Win Hawes 18 Filler 15 Filler 15 48
76ers Lose Hawes 18 Garnett 31 Rondo 31 80

To explain, the above table shows the possible picks in Game 7 and two future games in the Conference Finals. A filler pertains to any player in the pool that is left. Note that if a star from the winning team (say Heat) is picked in the conference finals, then that would mean a filler replaces him in the Finals. So that means, the filler slot still is valued as a filler in terms of value received in the end.

To simplify the four scenarios, here is the table..

3-game Value Celtics Win 76ers Win
Garnett 77 64
Hawes 80 48

The best and worst case scenarios are present in the Hawes row. That's a difference of 32 PRA. Now if you look at the Garnett row, the worse case scenario there (64) is just 18 pts below the best case scenario of Hawes. Even the next best scenario of 77 is not that far off from 80. Clearly from these, I am inclined to pick Garnett.

Now game theory does not end there. The results are paired with the probability of the Celtics winning or the inverse. For me there is 70% chance the Celtics will win because they are playing in Boston. If multiplied (70% with the Celtics win, and 30% with the 76ers win, then adding across rows), a resulting table will still show a Garnett pick makes more sense than a Hawes pick. Now try and play around with the probabilities, the Garnett pick will still look good. Thus, he gets my pick even if I think the Celtics will win this series.

By the way, Garnett is an unrestricted free agent after this playoffs. That is why he is playing well (for the next contract) and that is why he will keep playing well. Especially in Game 7. The last Game 7 he played versus the Hawks (note: on the road), he got 44 PRA. Even if I don't get that much, I'll be content with a 30 PRA from him.

Rondo is not a bad pick too. He'll rip it out and will play very well at home. His Game 7s (19, 24, 26,32, and 24 most recently) are not that bad. Just got to get the jitters out, I guess.

Cross your fingers!