Strategy: Sticking To Your Guns

The Heat and the Spurs finished off their respective opponents at home in Game 5, and they are just waiting for the winners of the Wizards-Pacers and Clippers-Thunder series. My pick for Game 6 remains to be Chris Paul and I am hoping for a strong showing in a loss -- that would be a nice farewell gift for me from the Conference Semifinals.

As we near the Conference Finals, let me touch upon the subject of "sticking to your guns" and "chickening out".


Sticking to your guns. This is defined as picking a winner at the beginning of a series, and staying the course of NOT picking from the expected winner throughout the series. Unless of course you reach a certain threshold of changing plans.

Chickening out. This is defined as changing a pick plan due to an event that you think changes the fate of a series. The event may be an injury (e.g. last year's Westbrook), lack of good picks, or most commonly a reversal of win-loss record. This may be a home court steal or a comfortable lead of an expected loser from the expected winner.

Some examples of changing pick plans would be:

  • Road win in Game 1. Many writers still hedge their series winners on Game 1 winners. I don't believe it much though. But after the Nets won Game 1 in Toronto, 25% of DTTF picked Kyle Lowry in Game 2. 
  • Even series 1-1. A superset of the above, except that it can be a Game 2 win. Winning 1 of the first two road games means the lower seed has chance to lead 3-1 as they are favoured to win Games 3 and 4 at home.
  • 2-1 lead. Sometimes a "stolen home court advantage" is not enough, but a 2-1 lead by the lower seed may be enough to sway some to change pick plans.  For example, I picked Tony Parker in Game 3 after the Mavs led 2-1. Go Mavs! :P
  • Road sweep 2-0. Who wouldn't jump ship? This spells a chance for a sweep. After the Wizards won both games in Chicago, 21% of DTTF jumped ship and went ahead and picked Joakim Noah in Game 3.
  • Elimination game. Sometimes even the strong-willed fan cannot ignore it any longer. 64% of DTTF chose Dwight Howard and James Harden after falling 1-3. 42% picked Paul George after falling 2-3.

There's also that risk of waiting too long to switch. Wait too long and you might lose the chance to pick stars from a team.

And of course there are double-reversals. That's changing pick plans at least twice in a series. That's the worst kind because chickened out twice and should have stuck to your guns. Hawks won 1-0, pick a Pacer. Pacers evened series, pick a Hawk. Hawk led 2-1, pick a Pacer. Pacers evened again, pick a Hawk. Hawks led 3-2, pick a Pacer. Pacers evened yet again, pick a Hawk.

Sometimes there should be a point where the madness stops. That's where that threshold must be drawn.

I promise, by the power of Grayskull, from here on out I will stick to my guns, and change plans only on 2-0, on elimination game, or lack of good picks. Those are my thresholds.

Even though this year has been a crazy postseason, there's no excuse for all of us not to raise our game coming into the next round. And hopefully stick to our guns.

67 comments:

  1. Hmmm… To stick and back the Wizards, or get as much from them as I can!? I don’t know man. I usually have my picks selected a day or 2 in advance but I’m blank this time… Decisions decisions.

    My pick tonight has to be either a Wizard or a Clipper. From the Clippers I have already used Blake and CP3, using DJ/Jamal now would render me finished from their roster should they advance!

    On the other hand, from the Wizards I still have John Wall, Marcin Gortat (49 PRA?!?!?!) and Nene still to use – my reluctance to use their bigs is that they should dominate on the glass and inside should they get past the Pacers, so I’m leaning towards John Wall if I pick a Wizard. With the Pacers, meanwhile, I’m left with Roy Hibbert and George Hill after I got on the ‘Pacers to go fishing’ bandwagon. So picking a Pacer would leave me very limited if they progress.

    My main rival in my private league (6 points ahead of me) is likely to go with Blake. And so I need to hope for a big night from a Wizard, and after he posted his highest PRA in a while, I’m going with John Wall. Even though I still think the Wizards have a great chance to advance. Something crazy may happen to push them out tonight. Hoping for another 30+ showing and a Wizards triple-overtime elimination to offset any losses against Blake!


    What do you guys think? John Wall, Gortat or Nene??

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    1. Gotta be Wall. If Wiz lose, it's okay to miss out on Gortat and Nene. Missing out on Wall is unforgiveable.

      If Wiz win, you can still pick Gortat. You are banking on Pacers to win Game7, right?

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    2. I took Deron WIlliams last night (and initially thought I had Paul Pierce) and was relieved as he had the most PRA of my 4 choices. DeWi 25, PP 23, RoLo 21 and WeMa 18. JJ got his explosion one game after I took him getting 44, 21 more than I got out of him in Game 4 so that hurt though.

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    3. Question for me Wall or Beal? Answer: Whomever gets more PRA

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    4. Going with Wall, his recent form (if only 1 game) is better and he is my original pick.

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  2. Great blog Taong !!!!!
    ..........
    You are correct when you say
    .... " there's no EXCUSE for all of us not to raise our game coming into the next round. And hopefully stick to our guns."
    ....
    DTTF is about to get heated......

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  3. btw..... There are no games scheduled for Friday and Saturday...
    ................What do we do? lol

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    1. Hahahaha... Withdrawal symptoms!

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    2. I've got Wesly Matthews locked in on Friday.

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    3. Blazers got bounced you know that right?

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    4. Yeah, of course. I had him pre-picked and his happy face is still filling my Friday slot.

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    5. Funny Tangent..... !!!
      ..........and YES Ali.... Withdrawals setting in already!

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    6. They should schedule Portland vs. the Nets (the two losing teams from last round). I still have good Portland players to use.

      It's all about racking up the PRA. lol

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    7. I know THAT feeling. Whenever I go to the 4th of may, I still see "game in progress" for Houston - Portland game 7 and LaMarcus Aldridge is still without any point, rebound or assist.

      It´s also why I don´t prepick RW or KD for a possible game 7. Next thing you know the Thunder win game 6 and I can´t cancel my pick.

      Tonight Griffin, then either RW/KD or Beal, whoever is still playing in game 7.

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    8. Haaaaaaa FUNNY Daytona!!!
      .............I feel ya Alex.... I've already used KD ugh!!!

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    9. Depending on tonight's games there might not be any games scheduled till next Wednesday !!!

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    10. They will schedule Game 1's on Sunday for the Conference Finals if there are no Game 7's. The NBA does that every year.

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  4. All that being said I'm sticking with my guns and going with Trevor Ariza. Like you said above, I can still use Gortat or Nene if it goes to another game...... The next player on my LAC roster would be Redick, Barns, or Darren Collison.... Still have Lance Stephenson and David West on the other side....
    ....
    Good luck everyone !!!

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    1. I think you were saying Washington would win the series earlier. In that case you are sticking to your "new guns".

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    2. Hey, this whole "sticking with your guns" blog is in regards to the NEXT round lol
      ....You are correct though I had picked Wall with my FOURTH pick of this contest....
      ....
      what i meant to say was HUSH :)

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  5. Taong, you asked me for my strategy last night... here it is: There is no strategy. The strategy is to be as lose as possible and as flexible as can be. I've had two chicken picks (Durant and George in round 1) and 1 complete reversal (Stephenson before switching to Wizards). Other than that, I've stuck to my guns. It's all about picking players on the right night for me. Picked Noah after his award - 35. Harden after a dud - 52. Went all in on my picks and chose 3 Rockets early and Noah early, which allowed me to wait out a few of the other series. Ended up with Gasol when ZBo was suspended. I just keep going with safe picks, no matter what I've done the past. Doesn't matter if I thought the Wiz would win the series yesterday; if I think the Pacers will win the series today, yesterday doesn't matter.

    It all comes down to aiming for the 30 per game. Pick players you feel confident will hit 30. I've missed the mark a few times, either due to injury or underperformance. In a few cases (Williams, Ariza), it was feeling safe I'd get 25 and wanting to wait out the series.

    Sub 30:
    29 Jefferson - injury
    27 Kemba - bad game
    28 Lowry
    28 Dirk
    26 DeRozan - dud.
    23 Williams
    24 Stephenson
    27 Ariza

    Some will criticize my early choices of Durant and George, but I simply didn't want to miss out on them and I wasn't confident they'd get through. I find myself entering the Conference Finals short 3 players and with a ton of good options, sitting in 80th.

    In past years I've tried to be too cute in the first two rounds. It's occasionally worked (Pondexter for 28 last year) or failed (Foye for 7 two years ago with Paul out injured). Ultimately, I figure taking risks isn't the best way to go. Just pick the best players and hope that some blow up. Sometimes it backfires as bit (Curry 33, Aldridge 34; George 39), but you get other make up for it by blowing up (Harden 52; Paul 44 BPA; Batum 32 BPA; Wall 37 and now Joe J 44).

    For the record, the pick tonight is Chris Paul. He'll make up for his blunders last game. He's a man on a mission. I've taken him, so I'll go with his prime target instead: Griffin. I think LA wins this, but OKC takes the series. Very tempted to go Nene, but I'm not willing to risk losing Griffin.

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    1. Nice stuff .. Good read.... Keep it up...
      .... I feel that taking risks is KEY...

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    2. Excellent stuff mfari031. Playing safe and flexible indeed has worked wonders.

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  6. Haha, this is an awesome article Taong. I've been a horrible flip-flopper this year, but it has somehow worked. In round 1, I flipped from Houston to Portland immediately (which was correct) and then from Indiana to Atlanta when it was 3-2 (which was incorrect). In round 2, I've flipped around a lot. Start of series I liked the Thunder, then the Clippers after Game 1 until the Thunder won Game 3, and now I'm back on the Thunder. I liked the Wizards to win at the start of their series, and continued to think that way until the Pacers dominated Game 3, switched to the Pacers thinking they were "back", and now I don't know what to think other than I want to stay away from that series. I also liked Portland to win at the start of their series but immediately switched to the Spurs after Game 1. As I've picked no Spurs and no Heat, only one Pacer (George), only 2 Wizards (Beal and Ariza), only 1 Thunder (Durant), and 3 Clippers (Griffin, Paul, Jordan tonight), I've actually done alright considering I've flopped around as much as the Clippers do :P I did stick to my guns in Round 1 with the Thunder though, and that really worked out.

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    1. I think with changing opinions, it's OK not to be too set on who you think will win if you really aren't that sure (for example, Thunder and Clippers is just a very close series). What I did that worked is I avoided dipping too deep into a team I wasn't sure about that didn't have much depth - for example picking only one Pacer, I wasn't in a hurry to pick Pacer #2. I went out west instead, looking at the number of great options from deeper organizations (Hello Clippers!). Even if the Clippers win their series, I've still got 4 good picks on that team if I get them on the right night. Actually, if this goes seven games I'm picking Westbrook and it would be to my advantage for the Clippers to win as it would crush all the people who "stuck to their guns".

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    2. Thanks Tangent!

      I am picking DeAndre Game 7, if necessary.

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  7. Deandre, Jamal, Nene, or Gortat? I was leaning towards Deandre since he had a dud last game and it's at home

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    1. I have the same choice, but also add Ariza. I'd go with a Clipper. They still have a lot of good options even if they do advance. If the Wizards advance, you're done. I'm going DeAndre, although Crawford has been a steady option in the late parts of this series.

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  8. Thing with Crawford is he only gets his PRA through points. If his shots not falling don't expect any rebounds or assists which scares me

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    1. Yeah, I was worried with taking Crawford....just 19pra
      .... Plus you are so very correct... 17-1-1

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  9. The Spurs won easily as expected @ home. Miami also won, although that was much closer than I or many others thought it would be. Both teams advanced to the next round and eliminated the Trailblazers and the Nets.

    Miami is not as good this year as it was in the past, or so it seems, but LeBron is great, and can easily carry a team on his back vs. lesser opposition. As the teams get better, and Miami moves out of the weak East it remains to be seen if they can actually win another championship with 1 great player, 1 aging and less healthy player (D. Wade), 1 player that can be good, or who can completely disappear (Chris Bosh), and a bunch of scrubs.

    My pick, LaMarcus Aldridge was okay (31 PRA), but a far cry from his best playoff scores that he put up vs. Houston and their lack of a defense (66 PRA and 52 PRA etc). That certainly wasn't going to happen vs. the Spurs much better defensive team, but I was still hoping for at least 40+ PRA from Aldridge, and he fell short of that goal, so that is disappointing. Aldridge was still the 5th best (tied) pick of the night, and 2nd best pick from teams not advancing to the next round.

    Joe Johnson was huge in his elimination game effort (44 PRA). Congrats to those that picked him on this night. Also Danny Green rose from the dead to post a 32 PRA effort once Tony Parker went down. Take note of this should Parker miss any games because of his injured hamstring, along with Kawhi Leonard who also picked up the pace.

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    1. Thanks for the Parker tip, Daytona. Ppl should be careful picking him. That hamstring will not get any better as the playoffs progress

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  10. As for what to do tonight: You have OKC with a 3-2 edge in their series over the Clippers, after they came back with a surprising win from a very lethargic performance at home (with a lot of help from the Clippers). The Clippers now face an elimination game at home, where they played awful, but won in their last home game vs. OKC, when OKC went to sleep after taking a huge lead.

    Anyone could still win this series, but with OKC having two chance to clinch a trip to next round, I will go with the thought that they can at least win won of the next two games. So I will pick Chris Paul of the Clippers tonight, playing at home in an elimination game, hoping for a huge effort from him, and at this point, an LA Clippers loss. Although I would not be surprised at all if they rose up and forced a Game #7 to make this very interesting, and give everyone who decimated the Clippers roster a heart attack.

    As for the Washington/Indiana series, that series is a complete mess. Washington plays like garbage at home, and Indiana completely lacks focus and consistency, and is just as likely to get blown out as to post a huge win. Good luck with that, I am not touching that series at this point in time.

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    1. "heart attack" is correct sir....
      .....
      The players on my LAC roster are Redick, Barns and Collinson.
      .... My chips are in on OKC advancing...
      The WAS-IND series seems more up in the air to me and worries me more. I still have Stephenson, West, Hibbert and Watson for IND. My roster for WAS consist of Ariza, Gortat and Nene..... I'm 'um, guessing' IND will win it out so I'm going with Ariza tonight. Again my chips are in with IND....
      .....Good luck

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  11. The NBA needs at least one of these teams on the brink of elimination to win tonight to force a Game #7 on Sunday. So with that in mind count on at least one of these series to continue after tonight, if not both.

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    1. Hell, you just want another shot at more points lol

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    2. Actually... it may be good for DTTF. More chances for the leaders to fall, more chances for those behind to rally.

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  12. Nobody asks for my strategy, so here it is anyway ;)

    Round 1 should be easy enough. 8 teams that bow out, so it shouldn´t be too hard not to pick more than, say, one player of an advancing team. I did a good job at that, picking only Paul George in game 6 of his series (opposed to picking KD or RW in their game 6 the same day). What I regularly do a bad job in is my timing.

    As it happens far too often, I struggle early. On day 2 I could have picked Aldridge, playing in Texas no less, but instead I chose Monta Ellis for 14 PRA. Any hope of a decent campaign was pretty much shot after that debacle ;)

    On game 2 and 3 of the Rockets - Blazers series I picked Howard and Harden. But, well, not in the correct order. So I had 65 instead of 99. These three picks ruined my first week when I had 281 points where most people were deep in the 300s. And that is with my lucky 47 from Steph Curry.

    Started week 2 with Dirks 28 (next game he was the daily leader with 42). followed by so-so games, highlighted by Joe Johnsons 20 PRA in a game where DoRozan went for 38. And I really don´t want to talk about my prepick of LaMarcus Aldridge for game 7 anymore :D

    Round 2, that was when I really hit my stride. The problem was the pairing. It was either "who will win that?" with OKC - LAC and IND - WAS, or it was "is it over yet?" with SAS and MIA. Fittingly, two of the series are over now after 5 games, the other two are still blocking each other out. On the SAS/MIA days I had Pierce for 14 (instead of Aldridge for 46 that I couldn´t pick), D-Will for 23, and Matthews for 18. On the other days I managed to find Nene for 11 (first Wizard I picked in a historically bad game from the Wizards, by far the worst of the starting five), West for 17 and DeAndre Jordan for 22 (7 points, 14 rebounds). That handily explains why I am sitting smoothly in the 55 percentile. Adding my missing 58 points doesn´t make it much better I´m afraid.

    The good news: I still am only missing George and West from the teams that probably advance to the conference finals. The bad news: That doesn´t help me much.

    After five game 7 in the first round I hope for at least one this weekend. Preferably in Indiana.

    Soon I will tell you how to pick for the final three series. Just don´t listen to me and you will be fine :D

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    1. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!!
      ......................That was awesome :)

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    2. Your blood runs blue like me, I already know how you pick hehe

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  13. Anyone worried about taking Tony Parker next round?
    ........Of course I'm hoping OKC wins it so I'm looking to spend my SAS roster........
    .....Regardless, was just curious if anyone feeling kinda iffy on Parker?

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    1. He said its minor so I wouldn't worry

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    2. If he doesn't play a few games, not a problem, as the Spurs have several good options to play in his place. If he would be out for the rest of the playoffs, that would be a concern.

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  14. Since the other day when I purposely tried to jinx myself to get rid off the curse, I've gotten 30 from Beal and 27 from Batum so it worked too bad someone else on here has it now ;)

    Anyway today's games I actually think both home teams will win and force game 7's. I still have Wall,Ariza,Gortat from the Wizards and from the Pacers West,Stephenson,Hill,Hibbert to pick. So whatever team gets through I should have good enough options. If Wizards win today I'm going to pick them to get past the Pacers If not I won't get to pick Wall but it doesn't make much of a difference.

    I have OKC winning the series no matter what and if they don't then I'll take it on the chin. I have Griffin and DJ left, I'm going to be picking Griffin today but I'm really tempted to not pick him and save him for a game 7. Unfortunately I don't think I have the guts to do it.

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  15. 4pra for me at half....
    .....Woooooooooooooohoooooooooo !!

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    1. You left tube too early. Ariza got 2 FTs and 1 Reb in the last 8 seconds.

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    2. Wow... THAT is good news lol

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  16. Wall is at 11 PRA and only 4 point points, need him to light it up in the 2nd half.

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  17. I never seen a team that actually made the playoffs be as pathetic as the Washington Wizards are at home. If it wasn't for how bad the East was this year, this team would have never made the playoffs. The only thing that saved them was the fact they had a winning record on the road, whereas every other team below them had a losing road record.

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    1. The Wizards are 22-19 both at home and on the road, that is good for the road but awful at home. This includes losses to both of the 2 worst teams in the NBA, the Bucks and 76ers and a loss to the Celtics who were also one of the 5 worst teams.
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/wizards-face-pacers-in-game-6-trying-to-overcome-playoff-struggles-at-verizon-center/2014/05/14/e879449a-dbbc-11e3-a837-8835df6c12c4_story.html

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    2. well, don't blink. it's now 73-71

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    3. Indiana was 35-6 at home, and 21-20 on the road. Yet in these playoffs you'd never believe that.

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  18. Thunder UP !!!!
    .........................A Thunder win will offset the 14pra I got tonight :(

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    1. ok that means CP3 needs 46 PRA for me ;)

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    2. Break a leg CP3
      ......................... #snicker#

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  19. There is some really good news if LAC can win tonight AND OKC wins Sunday. Heat vs. Pacers G1 is also on Sunday so if all goes well, I can get through that series with 1 less pick than games.

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    1. Bad news for some, coz they will be forced to pick Durant or Westbrook for Sunday.

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    2. If they believe the Clippers will win then yes, but if the Thunder win G7 at home, there's DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes if both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have been used.

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  20. Well the Pacers finished off the Wizards so I need a Clippers/Thunder G7 with the Thunder winning to benefit. Thunder though have rallied to tie the game up at 72 after 3 quarters.

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