Golden State Warriors are CHAMPS!

Big congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, our 2015 NBA World Champions!


Cheers goes to every player in the roster who understood what they had to do all season to achieve this. To the players who sacrificed a lot to be here like Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and David Lee. To Steve Kerr who adds this to his ever-impressive resume. To Draymond Green for his Game 6 triple-double. To Stephen Curry for a much deserved ring to top his greatest season so far. To all the loyal Bay Area fans who stuck with the team for better or worse waiting 40 years to get another title. Truly, strength in numbers worked. Congratulations!

As for the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, it still is a great season. There are a lot to look forward to in the next season for a core that will only grow much better together. Cleveland will have their turn, and I believe that.

As for this fantasy game, it's a wrap. Such a crazy season for Drive To The Finals! I was not able to reach my target of top 100. Not much great picks, and only very few low ones... just an average flow all throughout. Next season's top 100... wait for me.


As for this blog, my sincere thanks go to all our contributors in the comments section, especially to Tangent, Daytona, aceee06, Alex, basketballfan, kaboom, Wiley, Damian and a slew of others who I thought have lifted each other towards a better enjoyment of the game. This blog is nothing without you. I salute all of you!

That's it folks, I'll see you again in 10 months!

Drops mic.


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Small Ball

For two straight games and a half, the Golden State Warriors' small ball has been giving LeBron and his Cleveland Cavaliers the fits. Can the Cavs truly adjust?

In Game 5, the Cavs still started Mozgov but seeing that he was too clunky for the Warriors' speed, they soon benched him. And thus began the road to zero PRA for him.

Tristan Thompson was the right choice against the Warrior's small ball. Athletic big man who can run the floor. Look for him to be heavily used in Game 6.

Here is the problem with the Cavs matching small ball -- they don't have enough people. Coach Blatt has insisted on a short rotation scheme. Minus Mozgov, that even limited their options. Maybe it's time to listen to the players and play the vets. Look, Shawn Marion has played in the Mavs' version of small ball before. He is not that quick anymore but his defense can still wreak havoc. 5 minutes of play for each benched vet is a precious rest for the core guys. Do it!

The Cavs will again force the two-headed frontcourt of Mozgov and Thompson early on, because if that clicks like it did in Game 3 and Game 4, then the Cavs will dictate the game. If not (like in Game 5), then run run run going small. The Dubs with small ball are forcing LeBron to run with them, hoping that will eventually tire him.

Warriors -- strength in numbers -- TRUE.

Cavs -- All in -- NOT QUITE. Play the vets.

As for DTTF, assume Game 6 to be the last even of you are rooting for the Cavs. Play your absolutely best baller remaining from your pool. Mine is Andre Iguodala. Going hot...


This may be it, guys and gals! Good luck!

Cold Cold Cold

Just laying out my cards for Games 5, 6 and 7 (if necessary)...


Notice that all of them are playing on the road. So yeah, this is a very unorthodox move for me. With PCT 93, I need a miracle.

Disclaimer: Let these picks serve as an example of what NOT to do.

As for Game 5, here's wishing Cavs win. There, I said it. Underdogs, woof!

:D

Getting Lucky

Game 4 is critical. Cavs win and they command the series and have three chances to close out. Dubs win and they reset the series from scratch and play two of the next three at home. Players will get at it. This may be the turning point of the series, folks! Don't miss it!

As for DTTF, I stand at PCT 95. That's a bad place for someone shooting for Top 100. I am left with a few role players and have used (or failed to use) the stars. I have resigned that I will not reach my goal, but I want to have fun with my last few picks.

The heck with averages... let's take a look at the players' best games this postseason:


The reason I listed that is now I am risking it and looking to be super lucky. The way to do that is not to be safe in any way, and that is why I am discarding the averages. I need my picked player to have the ability (and the playoff history) to explode for some yummy PRAs.

I think this will still go at least Game 6, and for that I would need to set aside my top three from the list for the picking. That would be J.R. Smith (oh my goodness!), Tristan Thompson (good!) and Matthew Dellavedova (Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi oi oi!).

I don't like J.R. Smith in this series. Klay Thompson is a good defender, and J.R. has been average this series. Not up to par with my usual preference. BUT, this is a gamble, so I will pick him.. but not yet in Game 4. I will set him up for Game 5 ;)

Tristan Thompson should be the safe pick for me. He is trending up and has silently carved up the lane on both ends. But he is a hot pick owned at 17%. Can't get lucky the way I want if a lot more others get lucky too. I am looking for a cold pick.

Despite cramping up after Game 3, I think Dellavedova has found his groove and will earn the minutes he had in that game again in Game 4. That is the Cavs' formula to stopping Curry -- put a body (literally) on Curry the whole game. Irving could not do that for reasons that he was also expected to reserve some effort into the side of offense, but Della can focus entirely on hounding Curry as James has taken over the point guard duties. Hopefully, Della has shown the Cavs Nation he is worthy of being resigned this summer. Now, he has to gift Cavs Nation who suddenly stormed to buy his jersey, by keeping it up.

My Game 4 pick: Matthew Dellavedova

If the series goes 7 games, I will add Mozgov into the mix. As I expected, Dubs adjusted to the James-Mozgov pick-and-roll game, and thus the big man was limited in Game 3. I am hoping to catch him in a good game later.

Sooner or later, one of these next four picks I will get a dud. Until then, here's to rolling the dice!

Good luck to me.

Stoppable

You know, when LeBron James said before the series that Steph Curry is unstoppable, I knew he was playing with the Warriors ego. Yes he recognizes and praises Curry, but at the same time he was making them too comfortable. I've heard the same thing many times, especially when Popovich always praise Dirk before games... I hate that!

It may be an off-night for Curry, but all those Cavs hands on his face contributed a lot. Curry can be stopped. All the Cavs needed was to study all those Curry off-nights throughout the season. Rare, but it happens.

And so is LeBron. He can be stopped. It has been done before. The Warriors just need to figure that out. They actually limited his shooting percentage. They just need to deny him the ability to see an open man. Hard.

The Warriors will adjust. One, to give Curry better looks by using picks and screens more. Two, devise an answer to the James-Mozgov pick-and-roll game that opened up the lane in Game 2.

Meanwhile, will Klay Thompson remain hot? If the Cavs gameplan of shutting down Curry and letting Thompson beat them off screen worked in Game 2, they will not divert from that a whole lot.

My tentative Game 2 pick: Klay Thompson. He will not top his Game 2 PRA, but if the Cavs don't adjust to him, off he goes again.

What should be Steve Kerr's next move?

Irving Out

Defense wins championships, and Game 1 was just an appetizer. With great defense, the Warriors rallied in the fourth, and suffocated LeBron and company in overtime.

The bad news? Kyrie Irving seems to have re-aggravated his injury right there in the last few minutes of overtime. How unlucky.

UPDATE: Fractured left knee cap :(

What does this mean for DTTF? If Irving sits out Game 2, here are some of those who may have a boost on PRA:

  • LeBron James. He will most likely handle most of the point guard duties in the second half. When Irving was out in the Hawks series, James got PRAs of 50 and 68.
  • Steph Curry. In Game 1, he was defended well by Irving whenever they got matched up. When guarded by any other Cav, Curry shot well above average. Lights out?
  • Matthew Dellavedova. Game 2 might be the only chance Della gets the most minutes. He doubled his PRA when Irving was out back in the Hawks series. 21 PRA.
  • Iman Shumpert. He was about +5 PRA in the two games missed by Irving last round. Without Irving, the Cavs bench has pressure to step up.
My tentative pick: LeBron James. Down 0-1, he knows they need this game. If they lose Game 2, Cavs Nation may have to wait for next year to end the drought. He may look to involve others on offence early on, but soon he'll have no choice but to take over.

Game 1 he scored 44. Game 2 he'll have his triple double.

Let's get it on!



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Right Player, Right Time

Pick who when -- that's the problem. For many, here's the typical order of picks from Games 1 to 4 (with their respective ownership percentages):

Steph Curry 24%, 23%, 5%, 4%
Klay Thompson 7%, 20%, 6%, 7%
LeBron James 7%, 9%, 30%, 10%
Kyrie Irving 6%, 4%, 20%, 20%

Picking Curry in either Game 1 or 2 makes sense as he "may" be more effective at home. The Cavs will play their own game and may reserve matchup adjustments after Game 1, thus the "unstoppable" Curry may have his way in the first game. Also, people forget that Curry is still prone to injury -- something he has evaded this postseason... so far. He is the best example of pick-first-the-best-player-at-home-in-Finals strategy that most have been doing in DTTF for years.

Thompson, on one hand, said he is still dealing with nerves that comes with the Finals. Not sure about you, but that seems like Game 1 will just serve as a warm-up for a Game 2 when he'll be more comfortable. Also, he may feel it out first coming off concussion. Game 2 fits him well.

Many of us are depending on the production of LeBron in the Finals and which game he will perform his best. His Game 3 is his first home game in the Finals, and most believe that game is his rightful place in DTTF. I am not entirely convinced, except if the Cavs are going for a commanding 3-0 like what happened last round against the Hawks. That won't happen against the Warriors. My belief is that his best will come after LeBron's Cavs trail the series (0-1 so G2, or 1-2 so G4, or 2-3 so G6, whichever comes first), or if they are going for a 3-X lead.

Irving, on other hand, is unpredictable being injured. The quotes on recent articles tell me that the Cavs will be limiting his minutes and will try to manage him in favor of longevity. Truly if he can pace himself for 20 minutes per game, then he can help the Cavs. My bet is either Game 1 just in case he aggravates his injury and plays less in succeeding games, or in an elimination game when he can lay it all out on the line.

For those trailing in their leagues and have nothing left to lose, how about doing a series of cold picks? James then Irving then Thompson then Curry? Who is bold enough to pick James in Game 1?

You know what? I feel LeBron needs a Game 1 win to have a chance to win this series.

My Game 1 pick: Harrison Barnes. Picks for the rest of the games will be based on "feel".

gl!

Poll: NBA Finals Prediction



Which drought ends here? ;) Post why in the comments! And how :P

2015 NBA Champ?

  

Final Four Recap

Alright peepz! Finals is lotsa days away. I just want to dedicate this area for recaps.

Here's mine..

I haven't got any great round yet. The first two were average I think, and the last round was particularly awful. Hopefully the Finals changes that.

Rockets were awful. Hawks too some. Good thing we have a chance in the Finals to pick players in a "winning effort" for a change.

Bad bad bad.

How's yours?

Splits

As we all try to figure out whether we should keep picking our best remaining Rocket or pluck away a Warrior from the Finals, one of the things we should look at are splits stats. Splits "by opponents" tell us whether a Warrior may play better against the Cavaliers or in this series versus the Rockets.

Here are their splits:
* Player Name / Playoffs vs Rockets / Season vs Cavaliers
* Stephen Curry / 42 / 30
* Draymond Green / 34 / 28
* Klay Thompson / 23 / 27
* Harrison Barnes / 15 / 18
* Andrew Bogut / 17 / 12
* Andre Iguodala / 15 / 16

Anyone ready to pick Curry?

I know this sounds too objective, but in the absence of inside information, these numbers provide guidance.

I already picked Curry and Bogut, so that leaves me with Green with 'probably' better outing this series than against the Cavaliers.

Before considering the splits, I was thinking of Jason Terry who showed he can showcase his skillz as an upcoming free agent in an elimination game by suddenly getting a 20 PRA in Game 4. However, Game 5 is on the road so I may not get that 20.

If I pick Green in Game 5, I still have (in order of PRA average) LeBron, Kyrie, Klay, Tristan, Harrison, Iman, Timofey, J.R. and Iguodala for the Finals. The 4th to last in that list have slightly lower stats than JET's FA-in-elims probable numbers, but I can just monitor the next series more closely to do some maneouvering like I did last year's Finals.

Terry is still a logical pick (and hottest too), but Green gets my pick for tonight.

As Morgan Freeman mentioned in the movie Deep Impact, "Good luck to us all."

Unrestricted Free Agents

I have been playing this DTTF for too long to observe (and read from others who do too) that unrestricted free agents (team option) are very good at elimination games. Here are some notable ones from this round:

Josh Smith is a good example. In 4 elimination games so far this postseason, he had PRAs of 20, 27, 16 and 31. That 16 was awful but that was a different series. Yesterday's 31 at home is a good sign that he's into it at the edge of elimination versus the Warriors. Game 5 on the road will be tough but I still reckon he can do above his average PRA.

Jason Terry is another one with PRAs of 22, 19, 7 and 20. Note that his 7 and Smith's 16 are from that Game 7 so maybe Game 7s are exception. I have someone else picked for Game 5 but I am still thinking about Terry.

Paul Millsap is a good pick for today for those saving him for an elimination game. His 31 from Game 3 was partly due to the ejection of Horford, but I think he can do it again in Game 4 even with Horford back. He has to show the Hawks that he deserves a hefty new contract this summer. If not, at least the other GMs are sure to keep their eyes glued to the TV.

DeMarre Carroll is a risky pick (and the hottest pick too at that). He hasn't been himself since that unfortunate knee sprain. 9 and 15 are hardly encouraging PRAs but at least it's trending up. Here's hoping the fear of elimination kicks some more adrenalin to overcome his banged-up knee, because he is my pick.

PCT 92 is now a tough spot for me. I was at PCT 98 this time last year. I just have to minimize bad luck during the Finals. Picking LeBron James on the right day (and as cold pick hopefully) should bring me back on the hunt. I need one of those 60 PRAs of his ;) It's a longshot to Top100 but the game is still on.

gl!

Change of Mind

With the Rockets down 0-3, this may be our last chance to pick a Rocket.

If you still have Josh Smith because you've been saving him for an elimination game, I think you are in good position with that pick. Smith is a free agent this summer, and there's no other place he can showcase his worth than this Game 4 in Houston. He should be able to produce near his Game 3's 28.

I veered away from my pick plan and decided to move Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to the Finals. The change of mind made me pick Terrence Jones in Game 3 and place Corey Brewer (MFFL!) in Game 4. The flaw there was me settling on the promise of 18 PRA whereas what I really needed was 20+ PRA to move my percentile closer to 99 (currently at 94). Jones before Game 3 wasn't really trending towards a 20+ PRA game, and I should have seen that. Now, Game 4's Brewer is in same situation where he does not seem to get enough minutes nor touches lately to even break his average.

Andrew Bogut on the other hand is trending up. He had 26 and 25 PRAs the last two games. If he can get 20 PRA, that's still better than Brewer's. Typical reasoning is that he is a Warrior not a Rocket, and he even starts for them, thus should be picked in the Finals. Actually, his playoffs average puts him behind seven other players I have lined up for the Finals, so I can definitely afford to pick him now while his upswing is still fresh. Who knows if he'll have a better (or worse) outing against the Cavs?

My pick: Andrew Bogut



Anyone else in this series looking like a 20+ PRA guy?


Korver Out, Bazemore In

Losing Korver is the final straw to the Hawks' downfall. It all started at All-Star Weekend when the Hawks' starters were in an all-time high. What followed were games uncharacteristic of who the Hawks were before the All-Stars. It seems they were content to getting to All-Star. Injuries now in the playoffs are the dagger on the back. Hawks have no hope.

Then here we are in DTTF who are supposed to be rejoicing with our all-Hawk picks going to this round. What followed were disappointments. It is still otherwordly to even think of picking a Cav just to make up for the points, but let's just save them for the Finals.

Assuming the Cavs and Warriors sweep, here are my Finals roster (sorted according to average PRA):

* LeBron James
* Draymond Green
* Kyrie Irving
* Klay Thompson
* Tristan Thompson
* Harrison Barnes
* Iman Shumpert

The last three have PRAs of around 17, so it can justify picking a Hawk capable of 17 PRA in Games 3 and 4.

I am saving DeMarre Carroll for an elimination game (because that's what I do with incoming free agents sometimes). And so I am going with Dennis Schroder. Nothing exciting there, just scraping up the bench for PRA.

Note that the absence of Korver may open up big minutes for Kent Bazemore, both as starter at the 2 and as backup to Carroll. If he starts, you may want to consider switching to him.

I am at PCT 93 and needs 6 straight solid showings (at least average PRA) to get to PCT 99. That and the correct placing of LeBron "may" bump me into Top 100. One day of subpar PRA will mean two steps back. This is a challenge.

Good luck!

UPDATE: Kent Bazemore will start. Changed pick from Schroder to Bazemore. It's a gamble.

Two Sweeps Anyone?

With the Cavs taking care of business on the road and the Warriors protecting homecourt, we have two 2-0 series in favor of the favored. Do I hear whispers of sweep?

With the Hawks hurting, the Cavs are now gearing to bring brooms in Games 3 and 4 at home even without Irving. First Carroll, now Horford and Korver. Carroll seems to be good enough to play although we can no longer get his average PRA. Korver was showing his usual self before hurting his ankle. They just can't get a break. 

Tentative picks..
Game 3: DeMarre Carroll
Game 4: Kyle Korver (if healthy and 0-3; otherwise, Bazemore)

The Rockets are more likely to get a win or two in Houston, but Harden knew they really needed a road win as he slumped to the ground in agony at the end of Game 2. It will be hard to win Games 5 and 7 in Golden State. Unlike the other series, this is more likely to go at least 5 games as the Rockets really had a chance to win any of the first two games. So I can now get Terrence Jones into the mix.

Sure picks..
Game 3: Terrence Jones
Game 4: Klay Thompson
Game 5: Draymond Green

If Warriors sweep, much better. Will gladly go Green-Thompson-Irving-James-Barnes in the Finals.

Bad days in DTTF.

Who Will Guard LeBron?

I'm The Atlanta Hawks minus DeMarre Carroll do not look like an All-Star team anymore. He is the LeBron-stopper and without him, the King will have his way. Who's gonna stop the train now?

Paul Millsap had some degree of success guarding LBJ, but remember that before Carroll's injury, Millsap kept getting switched to LBJ and repeatedly got eaten on one-on-one ball.

Kent Bazemore scored a point per minute after Carroll's injury. He also officially replaces Carroll in our pick plans, but bumped later in the series as a last resort. UPDATE: Carroll will not play Game 2. Bazemore gets my pick!

Will Kyle Korver get more touches without Carroll? I am getting giddy about that guy. I keep on waiting for his normal game but that has not happened yet. Maybe the loss of Carroll can wake him up.

The loss of DeMarre Carroll to injury has put a damp on our pick plans in this series. I now wish Cavs sweep just to soften the loss off Carroll in DTTF.

My pick: Paul Millsap. Better on the road than at home in the playoffs. Game 1 stinker was an aberration. Hopefully he gets some of Carroll's rebounds. A cold pick at 11% owned, that hopefully should beat the 23% owning Korver. UPDATE: Bumping Millsap to Game 5 or elimination game (DTTF note: Unrestricted Free Agent this summer).

For those who still have Jeff Teague, he is the hottest pick at 27% owned but that should not derail you from picking him. You've seen him outperform Irving, and with the latter aggravating his injury, Teague should continue to perform well in Game 2.

Without Carroll, how many points will LeBron make?

UPDATE TO UPDATE: Scratch all that. Changed pick back to Millsap. Hawks tweeted Carroll starts. Thanks K and Anonymous!

Dwight Howard Out?

Based on my pick plan I can jumble Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Josh Smith for Game 2.

I originally penciled-in Thompson because he usually bounces after poor games and that I saw he gets a lot of touches, shots and attacks to the baskets in Game 1; they just didn't go in.

However, with the absence (or minutes restriction) of Dwight Howard due to injury, Terrence Jones and Josh Smith may get extended minutes especially if they do a lot of small ball. Their coach admitted they cannot employ their favored big ball without Howard.

My pick: Josh Smith
Friday: Paul Millsap
Saturday: Klay Thompson (if 1-1) or Terrence Jones (if 2-0)

Please blast in the comments on the status of Howard. If they plan to play him unrestricted, I might switch back to Klay.

All-Star Hawks

For Wednesday's game, everybody seems to be picking a Hawk almost exclusively. Here, look at the hottest picks...

Hot Picks:
  • D. Carroll (22%) 
  •  
  • A. Horford (22%) 
  •  
  • J. Teague (19%) 
  •  
  • P. Millsap (12%) 
  •  
  • K. Korver (11%)





That's a staggering 86% picking a Hawk starter. This shows the value of the Hawks starting five. With all the talk in this round between MVPs James (past), Curry (current) and Harden (future?), remember that four of the Hawks starting five got to the All-Stars. That is how the media and the coaches respect that group.

Now for the pick, really, you can just jumble them up this round, and try to pick the best Hawk on his best night. It's guessing time!

Horford is the default pick for the standard strategy of best player in team about to lose. If you want to play it safe, he is your guy.

Carroll is the hottest pick. If you are nursing a lead in your league, stay with the hot picks so that the majority of your trailers will remain behind you. Note that Carroll is the top 2 hottest picks for three straight games (1-3).

Millsap has the second highest PRA and it is baffling to see that only 12% of DTTF is picking him. Maybe people are saving him for an elimination game. If you want some sneaky pick, now is the time. Or in Game 2 when he is owned at 10%.

Korver may be the dark horse. He's been quiet the first two rounds, and the Hawks are pressed to shoot more threes to even stand a chance against the Cavs. Wait for him to have a good game before picking him.

Teague gets my pick, and that is partly because of Irving's injury. There is always opportunity when the opposing player is hobbled. It can be argued that Irving will get even healthier as the series go, and that he will be at his most cautious state in Game 1. Even if Irving does a John Wall and plays well, I still like Teague in a Game 1 at home. I'm not expecting high PRA; his 20s will do.

Hope the Cavs steal Game 1.

Plan To The Finals

With Rockets and Hawks picked too early last round, and with limited amount of good PRA players remaining from now to the Finals, sometimes it makes it easy to plan ahead if you can list all the players in a spreadsheet and pin each into the games they may be picked in.

On the table here, I listed all the top 21 players left in all four teams and highlighted the top 12. As you can surmise, 21 represents the worst-case scenario of three Game 7s, and 12 represents the best-case scenario of three sweeps. It took me several attempts to assign each into games, and I think this is one of the best versions.

In the East Finals, I still have plenty of Hawks to pick and so my top four Hawks (Millsap, Carroll, Teague and Korver) are pinned into Games 1-4. Of course, I can interchange the four into games I feel each will perform better. I will keep on picking those four until a Game 5 is imminent. Like for example if the series gets tied at 1-1, then Shroder gets into that mix. The hope is that the Cavs win that series because if not, then we'll all be in a lot more mess than we already are. By the way, only 9 out of 14 ESPN 'experts' say Cavs win it.

In the West Finals, I have a shortage of quality Rockets to pick (also the reason I did this table) and so I have to pin my top four players in this series into Games 1 to 4. That includes three Warriors (Curry, Green, Thompson). I'll maybe start with Josh Smith in that series and then those three Warriors. If both teams get at least 1 win each, then Terrence Jones gets into the mix, and so on. All ESPN 'experts' say Warriors win it.

All PRAs in this table are playoffs averages (without the missed games, like Irving and J.R. Smith). If you think a player will perform better on Game 1, home, away, elimination or any other factor, feel free to bump that player up in the list.

Note that I don't have Harden, Howard, Ariza and Horford anymore. If you still have them, do adjust for them too. Also Jason Terry may be bumped out of this Top 21 list (you're still the man JET! MFFL!) and Patrick Beverley into Top 12 list, if the latter becomes available for the West Finals.

In Game 1, I pick Stephen Curry (SURPRISE! This is MADNESS!). The Splash Brothers play better against the Rockets than against the Cavs. Especially that Beverley is not playing, Harden and Terry form a very poor defensive backcourt. Draymond Green plays better versus the Cavs than the Rockets, so maybe he gets bumped into the Finals.

Good luck to us all!




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Bye Magic Eight, Hey Final Four


After two rounds, I'm 9 points out of Top 10% (Kenny Smith is 889 points at PCT 90). I had two sub-20 PRA picks, and I already used Harden, Howard and Ariza from the West, and Horford from the East. I am guessing most of DTTF have 3 or 4 of those Final Four ballers already used, but maybe the top 5% still have at least three teams intact. It will be tough for me to crack PCT 97 at end of the 3rd round. If the West series goes 6 games or more, I may pick a Warrior or two too early just to avoid picking duds this round.

Here is my not-set-in-stone pick plan:
05/19 Terrence Jones
05/20 Paul Millsap
05/21 Josh Smith
05/22 Jeff Teague
05/23 Corey Brewer
05/24 DeMarre Carroll

If Warriors lose two games at any point, I'll start cracking at Curry, Green and Thompson. I have to keep at least the Cavs whole for the Finals. Cavs have to really steal a game at Atlanta.

Time to pull out some tricks this round!

Game 7: Clippers @ Rockets

If you have a strong feeling on who will win Game 7, you should stick to your guns and pick your best available player from the losing team.

I don't. Like some of you, I think this can go either way. The Rockets have the homecourt advantage and the momentum. However, both teams know those advantages are muted if we base it on what has happened to the games in this series. Weird unexpected games. It is not outwordly to say too that the Clippers can snatch Game 7. It will be a rumble.

My pick is my best remaining player in this series, DeAndre Jordan. If the Rockets win, good gracious. If Clippers win, just have to get Jordan's PRA, accept the loss, and move on.

Ah the West Conference Finals will be tricky.

Game Six

What part of "close out" do the Clippers not understand? That was a tragedy! Were the Rockets just down 1-3 a little while back? Two chances to close out.. fail. Third chance? I do not know about you, but the last two games showed that the Rockets now deserve to win this series. Let's see. I'll get back on that pick for Game 7 in two days.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers took care of business on the road to eliminate the Bulls from the playoffs. Can the Hawks and the Warriors do the same on Friday? It will be hard because it will be on the road. I can bet at least one of these will get extended too for Game 7.

DTTF Note: Game 7 will have a remix of teams. The Warriors series if it comes to a Game 7 will be paired with the Rockets series on Sunday. The Hawk's Game 7, if necessary, will be on Monday. These may affect the timing of your picks.

My pick for Saturday is John Wall. At 35%, he is the hottest pick, and at far second is Beal at 14%. It's a no-brainer for most. Ever since he was injured in Game 2, drivers of course stayed away from him. As everybody saw in Game 5, Wall is alive and well. He did not look like someone who had fractures in his wrist whatsoever.

However if you have Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol or Bradley Beal, you may want to use those instead. They've been consistent with their high PRAs.

Another of note is Tony Allen. He is listed as questionable for Game 6 with that hamstring injury, although he said he will play. The Warriors already figured out Allen by leaving him at the perimeter so they can double team the bigs. That makes Allen on the offensive end a liability. However, the absence of the defensive-minded Allen has opened up the Splash Brothers; that is where he is needed. I'm curious to see how the Grizzlies use Allen in Game 6.

May Friday's games be like Cavs' Game 6.

Close-out?

All series are 3-2 controlled by the high seed, except the Rockets.

The Clippers will be the favorite to win Game 6 at home even after a lopsided win by the Rockets in Game 5 at Houston. I recommend picking your best remaining Rocket. I pre-picked Josh Smith still remembering how he helped dismantled the Mavs in Round 1. However, he has struggled a bit in this series. So my Thursday pick goes to Trevor Ariza. Hope he makes it rain.

(However, if you still have Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler, they're the better picks at an elimination game.)

The other Game 6s will be played at the turf of the teams at edge of elimination. While LeBron has talked of a close-out, look for the Bulls to give it their all. The same goes for the Wizards and the Grizzlies. They know they must force a Game 7. I actually think all three series will go 7 games; that's how competitive this round is. But for DTTF sake, I wish they all end at Game 6.

We don't need to be troubled by suddenly being worried about picking LeBron and Curry in Game 7. I won't pick them, but I will still get worried. Not good.

My Friday pick is John Wall. Locked and loaded.

Good luck!

Wizards vs Grizzlies

No, it's not a Finals matchup. Far from it. It's a contest of which team will not survive Game 5, at least from our DTTF perspective.

The Grizzlies are still in full force and have shown they can win in Golden State. I think they can win Game 5. Note that I used 'can' instead of 'will', because the Warriors are still favored to win that game and eventually the series. I only have Conley left so I'll look elsewhere. However, if you still have Gasol or Randolph, you may want to pick them now.

As for the Wizards, Pierce's winning shot in Game 3 and a misleading 2-1 lead pushed me to pick a Hawk in Game 4. But now that the Hawks have regained footing, coupled with Wall's injury, I am comfortable again picking a Wizard. 

I got Bradley Beal. He just came off a big game, but I'll take his second best on the road where he generally plays better.

Question: Will Wall play in Game 5?

UPdATE: With Tony Allen possibly out due to injury and John Wall possibly in, I am tempted to change pick from Beal to Conley. However, with 5 minutes left to deadline for picking in the first game, I wouldn't risk it. But Conley is a better 'timing' pick.

Three Game Sevens?

So every high seed did their job to even up the series on the road. Except for the Rockets. Down 1-3, you should have your best remaining Rocket for your Tuesday pick. That would be Dwight Howard for me. I hope he stays out of foul trouble this time around.

The Cavs-Bulls, Hawks-Wiz and Warriors-Grizzlies series are all 2-2. The Game 4 winners will be carrying their momentum into Game 5 at home and will try to get a 3-2 commanding lead. It's not a do-or-die situation yet, but they know how critical Game 5 will be. If they lose, then they'll be pressed to avoid elimination on the road. And they wouldn't want that.

DTTF-wise, we can only wish that the home teams win Game 5 (except Rockets of course). If not, then we will be switching back and forth between teams, and there won't be enough to run with next round.

My only hope is that the Cavs and the Warriors win Game 5 as I expect them to meet in the Finals. Countless times I've been left with scraps for the Finals in previous years. This year, I need full force in Finals to break that Top 100.

Fingers crossed.

Lower Seed Rulez

I don't think it has ever happened in the history of the NBA that all lower seeds in the Conference Semifinals are up 2-1. All four! Really amazing.

Now all of DTTF are shaking our collective heads and thinking, "What the heck are we going to do now?" We picked from the wrong teams (as per current standing), we face logjam on stars from the higher seeds, and if these lower seeds win, we don't have anyone left in the next round!

Well at least you can say you are not alone. Me, you and your mom (Happy Mothers Day!) have the same problem, so I'd say that's even footing. Unless you are a fan of these lower seeds and have been delaying picking from them, your plans are ruined. Just like the rest of us.

Here's when everyone will be separated from hereon. Which among these lower seeds will win Game 4 and push the opponent to brink of elimination? Which ones will lose Game 4 and thus quickly go back to being the underdog? Pick wrongly and you will watch the others widen the gap.

Definitely most of us will pick now from the higher seeds. Because we've been saving their players, we now can only consider two stars from each team because there may be only two games left. And because another series co-owns the same game days, we can really only pick the very best players. But which team?

Here's how I see Game 4 -- Cavs have the biggest chance to win, Warriors next, Hawks next, and Rockets least. Don't fret yet about the difference in our opinions; just stay with me with the underlying strategy. Modify the following picks based from your bets, but I suggest you pick the best player in your chosen team to lose Game 4.

So based on my guts, I'd pick from the Rockets on Sunday. That is why I am picking the best player they have -- James Harden.

And for Monday, tentatively it's Al Horford from the Hawks.

For Game 5, I am pretty sure there will be a team down 1-3, so that team's best available player gets picked.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Home & Away

The masked Conley-led Grizzlies "seem" to have the upperhand with two straight home games after tying the series 1-1. However, it is not so farfetched to reckon that the Warriors can still steal one in Memphis. So, I don't have any urgency at all to pick from this series for Saturday.

I have Conley left to pick from the Grizzlies, and I have him planned for Game 4. However if they win Game 3, I'll pick one from Curry or Green from the Warriors for Monday (even hearing myself say this sounds like I am fooling myself).

As for the Wizards, I really cannot imagine them winning without the injured Wall against the Hawks. Between this and the other series for Saturday, this is where I have more certainty so I'll get my pick from the Wizards.

I already pre-picked Beal, but his 39% ownership for Saturday is just too hot for my liking. Gortat is cold at 6%. I know that at this point in the playoffs it's a very shallow reason to have a cold pick. And so like many of us trying to do an unorthodox decision, I searched for other reasons to do it...

Home and away records.

* Bradley Beal. Playoffs average PRAs: Away 33, Home 27

* Marcin Gortat. Playoffs average PRAs: Away 22, Home 39

I'm quite happy to pick Gortat at home, even if he gets high 20s PRA. Here is my pick plan...

Saturday: Gortat
Monday: Conley (if Griz loses G3)
Wednesday: Beal (if Wiz loses G3)

If you have news regarding whether Wall plays or not, feel free to blast the comments. If he plays, I'll change back to Beal for Saturday.

Everyone One-One

For those teams who lost Game 1 at home, winning Game 2 was the right way to balance the ship. That is why it is never a good thing to panic in DTTF just after one game.

LeBron James (headband version) and the Cavs showed in Game 2 that they can dominate the Bulls even without Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (for part of the game). For me, that rightly corrects the ship. If it was a near-win and not a trashing, then I'd start worrying about the Cavs. Now they only need to steal Game 3 to control this series, or at least Game 4 to keep their chances high. If not, it's a Game 5 sudden mass-picking for The King.

The Rockets just barely took the win from the Clippers in Game 2. While the 4th quarter was a convincing win for the Rockets, it was not without the stains of the 2nd and 3rd quarters when it looked like they'd lose again against a CP3-less Clippers. This is still a series shrouded in mystery. Most of DTTF would want the Clippers to lose because we've lost their major player(s) from Round 1. If they advance, it will be disastrous for the Conference Finals and The Finals in terms of starting to pick from the winners earlier than planned.

And then there's the Wizards without John Wall. That's a big worry. If he continues to sit through games injured, the Hawks will take this series earlier than the expected 7 games.

Meanwhile, the return of Mike Conley has given life to the Grizzlies, especially to the PRA of his buddy Zach Randolph. Truly the absence/presence of a key player makes all the difference. They are still expected to lose this series, but heck they will not go down without striking a nerve down the Warriors' spine.

Tentative picks for Game 3:
Friday: Jimmy Butler, vs D-less JR Smith
Saturday: Bradley Beal, while Wall is out

You may change my mind.

Road Wins Galore

Grizzlies won? Another road win? Sure why not? Every series now is in flux. Loving that the playoffs are getting more interesting, and the NBA's slogan of "most unpredictable playoffs" in history is coming true.

The Rockets lost Game 1 to a Paul-less Clippers. I can understand that people sees that as strong sign that the Clips have this. However, Rockets just need to stop one Blake Griffin to control this series. Of course, when Paul comes back, Rockets will have more to handle. I honestly do not know how this will go. I'm staying away from this series until a team wins two.

As for the Cavs, they are still favored by the media to win this series. There are two changes in Game 2 that bodes that. First, LeBron said he'll do less of feeling and more of attacking. Second, Tristan replaces Miller on starting lineup, which gives Cavs a better chance on the defensive end. We'll see.

I am making a gamble (doesn't everybody lately?) ; I am picking Pau Gasol.

If Cavs and Rockets lose Game 2, get ready to slap your forehead.

Four Game 1s, Three Upsets

Title says it all. It seems this round of the playoffs will make us play on our toes. This will cause a lot of fragmentation among us 'drivers', which I think is healthy for DTTF. Everything depends now on how each one of us make our picks. Luck will factor-in more now. Choose wrongly and you'll find yourself scraping the bench for picks in the succeeding rounds.

Fortunately there is still the Memphis Grizzlies to pick from. At least that will give us one more day before we decide on some gambles.

For Tuesday, I pick Marc Gasol.

Can the lower seeds sustain the stolen advantage? Or will they crumble and allow the higher seeds to grab wins on their turf? Let the debates begin!

No Griffin, No Nothin'

Without Griffin (and Paul in my case), we'd wish their series and Bulls' be done with as soon as possible. It's unlikely, but sweeps on these series will mean we don't have to labor much on picking aside from DeAndre Jordan and the Bulls' Three:


Gasol is the clear choice, especially that he doesn't have to work hard on defense with Kevin Love inactive. I just think Love will not return anytime during this series, that we can wait to pick Gasol at home.

Butler is having a career year and is highly dependable. His counterpart J.R. Smith is suspended for Games 1 & 2, but I think that benefits the Cavs more because now the defensive-minded Iman Shumpert will be guarding Butler. We can wait to pick him later for when he faces Smith who is a one-dimensional player.

Rose has the lowest PRA of the three but can explode in any game. He is also highly prone to injury. Noone wants anybody to get hurt, but I am picking him now for insurance's sake.

If you still have Griffin, and Paul remains hobbled by injury, pick him now because he will have to shoulder much of the scoring. Expect more of those back-to-the basket plays.

Good luck with your picks!

Round 2, Fight!

That was an entertaining Round 1, wouldn't you say? Too bad the Spurs had to face the Clippers early, but without that series, Round 1 would have been a bore. Now that that's behind us, let's get to the next round...

Conference Semis Winners?

The Conference Semifinal showdown kicks off with the Hawks hosting the Wizards. While I personally will bet on the Hawks to win this series, many in the DTTF are hedging otherwise. 20% are picking a Wizard and 15% are picking a Grizzly. I choose not to pick from this series yet and look at the first two games. However, if you are pressed to pick, here are your choices:
  • John Wall (WAS - 33 PRA)
  • Marcin Gortat (WAS - 30 PRA)
  • Bradley Beal (WAS - 30 PRA)
  • Paul Millsap (ATL - 28 PRA)
  • Al Horford (ATL - 28 PRA)
  • DeMarre Carroll (ATL - 27 PRA)
  • Kyle Korver (ATL - 24 PRA)
  • Jeff Teague (ATL - 24 PRA)
As you can see the Hawks are jam-packed, and if you think they are going to lose this series, better start picking them off in Game 1 to take advantage of these PRAs. Remember that unlike Round 1 where 30+ PRA is the norm, it is perfectly normal to average high 20s later this round. Prediction: Hawks in 5.

The second game features the heavy fave Warriors hosting the Grizzlies. These are both Top 5 Defensive teams, and we should expect less and longer possessions, thus slightly lower PRAs. Here are your options for this game:
  • Marc Gasol (MEM - 34 PRA) 38%
  • Zach Randolph (MEM - 24 PRA) 16%
And that's about it. The Grizzlies main game is 'feed the bigs', and I wonder how Andrew Bogut can last this series uninjured. The loss of Mike Conley was not so obvious against the more-injured Blazers, but I think that loss will make a big effect in this series. Just watch the Splash Brothers have their day out in this series. Prediction: Warriors in 5.

My pick: Zach Randolph
Primary reason: the cold pick strategy
Secondary reason: Gasol plays better against the Rockets or Clippers, just in case they advance



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Undefeated VS Relentless

Are you excited about today's two games? I am! You should.

First, I just saw in Facebook that the Clippers under Chris Paul has never lost a Game 7. They are 2-0! Even if that is a small number, that is already big in terms of the number of Game 7s in NBA history (moreso Clippers history). So this game is more competitive than I thought. I am looking forward to the game!

The Spurs just need to remember Finals 2013. They lost Game 6 and lost Game 7. That was a heart-breaking moment that they had to endure for a full year before they got redemption. The circumstances were different and the format was different, but I know they hated that feeling and will not allow that to happen again.

The undefeated versus the relentless. I honestly cannot tell now who will win. My pick goes to Chris Paul. Frak the next round hehe!

For the second game, it's the undefeated  Floyd Mayweather versus the relentless Manny Pacquiao. If you know me, you know I'm biased. Regardless, it is "the fight" of this decade. Don't miss it.

So, who's your pick? :)

Do or Die

It's good when a series like the Hawks-Nets show some stability -- the home team has won all five games. That trend may or may not continue in Game 6 as the Hawks look to finish the Nets off on the road, but at least the notion of Game 7 in Atlanta has this series favoring the Hawks.

I have already picked Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, and now it's Deron William's time to step to the plate. He had 47 PRA in Game 4 in Brooklyn that helped tie the series, and the same situation has presented itself. Granted this is a do-or-die for the Nets, Deron has showed he can carry this team, and I can only wish he lives up to that in Game 6. If not, I'll take his average PRA of 23.

As for the West, the Spurs and the Clippers each have won twice on the road. Because of that, homecourt advantage doesn't hold anymore. Besides, the Spurs are a veteran team whose core has done all these before. Game 7s are a routine to them.

I have Chris Paul penciled in for Saturday. If they win, then I lose all Spurs' PRA. I can debate between that fear of loss and the master plan, but I won't do that. Win or lose, I am sticking with it.

So who is picking a Spur?

#neverbetagainstthespurs

Going into Game 5, some of us held back from picking in that series because we wanted to be sure we can bring the winning players into the next round of the playoffs. Now that the Spurs won and have put the Clippers into the brink of elimination in Game 6 at San Antonio, we are confident now that we can finally pick a Clipper.

My pick is a no-brainer; it's Blake Griffin for 40+ PRA. 50 is a bonus. And for those of you who already used him, Chris Paul is still a 30 PRA prospect. Even those who are only left with DeAndre Jordan, I think he'll give you 30 in a redemption game.

Do you think the Clippers can steal a game again on the road? If they do, will they be the favorite to win Game 7 at home? And ruin all our plans?

I dare not answer that now. My pick is Blake and my expectation is for the Spurs to finish them off in Game 6. If not, only then will I worry about that.

Good luck to us!

1st Seed VS 8th Seed

Wednesday's game is a little like Tuesday's. The Grizzlies are up 3-1 and are trying again to eliminate the Blazers. Meanwhile, the Nets and Hawks are even at two wins apiece.

Actually, today's is far from yesterday's situation. 

If you want to apply yesterday's strategy, don't bother. First, the Hawks are still favored to win this series. Second, most of us already started picking Nets; it will be hard to turn tail and root for the Nets. Third, it's most likely you already used Aldridge and Lillard, and Batum's PRA may not be as good as a replacement now that Deron is already playing well.

Deron Williams has come out of his shell and is expected to take Game 5 seriously. He knows it is crucial. Coming off a 47 PRA, he is an enticing pick.

Brook Lopez is still the best Nets player in this series. He is dominating the paint (and Horford) and is the Nets' X-factor in this series. Pick him if you still have him.

Joe Johnson is the Nets go-to-guy. He needs to heat up before going at it, but he usually stuffs the 4th quarter stat sheet. He also loves to play against his former arena, and that is the reason he gets my pick.

Who among you are betting otherwise? Smelling an upset?

The Spur, The Clipper, And The Maverick

Alrighty! Two games today, and it's not simple at all.

First, the Rockets will try again to eliminate the Mavs and this time they have the home crowd behind them. For exercise purposes, I would like you to set aside your best remaining Mav because we will use him later in this post. Mine is Dirk Nowitzki (PRA: 34, 25, 46, 28 -- Ave: 33) who performs well on elimination games, especially on the road. If there is one persistent player, the √úberman is that. For some of you that will be Monta Ellis (PRA: 20, 32, 45, 40 -- Ave: 34).

Second, the Spurs and the Clippers. If you are among more than half of DTTF (like me) who have not picked from this series yet, then you might be wary of picking now -- from the Spurs, the Clippers, or wait for Game 5. There are at most three games left, so let's list the top three ballers from each team here:

  • Blake Griffin (PRA: 44, 52, 29, 46 -- Ave: 42)
  • Chris Paul (PRA: 45, 36, 14, 44 -- Ave: 34)
  • DeAndre Jordan (PRA: 24, 35, 18, 21 -- Ave: 24)
  • Kawhi Leonard (PRA: 27, 35, 37, 38 -- Ave: 34)
  • Tim Duncan (PRA: 26, 43, 15, 39 -- Ave: 30)
  • no other Spur is relevant right now

Suffice to say, everything rests heavily upon the result of Game 5. If the Clippers win, they will be heavily favored to win the series in G7 at Los Angeles, if not get lucky in G6. If the Spurs win, then surely they will look to close the series out in G6 at San Antonio. Your G6 pick will be easy for sure.

Now stay with me here. Assume the best case scenario that you pick from the loser and have all the players of the winner for Round 2, then that's the most ideal position.

If you pick wrongly, then you will lose that 35 PRA in the next round. Note: Do not assume you can get that PRA back by replacing with another pick in Round 2. That other pick in Round 2 will surely have a lower PRA. And worse, you will feel the chain effect of that for the rest of the playoffs, and then bite you back in the Finals. I had that mistake in a previous year, and trust me it does sting in the end.

So the objective is to not lose those 35 points. 35 points is roughly the difference between you and that person 3000 ranks away, so it's very precious.

The advantage of picking a Clipper (if you think they will lose) is that roughly about 30% of DTTF already picked a Clipper, and 25% more Tuesday. That's more than half of DTTF who will sink or swim with you. The disadvantage of course is when you pick wrongly, as always. 35 PRA down the drain.

The advantage of picking a Spur (if  you think they will lose) lies on numbers. Only around 15% of DTTF have picked a Spur and that includes Tuesday already. If the Clippers win, your extra 35 PRA will propel you past the 85% of DTTF as they lose Duncan's 35 PRA, and possibly scramble in Round 2 while you cruise along. The disadvantage lies when you pick wrongly and you will continue to fall behind that 85% (not percentile wise, but just within Round 2). It's a risky move.

My left hand brain is telling me that even though the Clippers own 2 home games out of the remaining 3, the Spurs are still favored to win. Just by the way people are picking in DTTF.

Now, who among you realized that the answer may not be in that Spurs-Clippers series? Oh yeah? :) It's with the Mavs. That's right! Pick a Mav at near 35 PRA! That effectively replaces the 35 PRA you would have used from the Spurs or Clippers this Tuesday, plus you get to save that 35 PRA for next Round, regardless of who wins Game 5. My pick: Dirk.

See, I could have put that previous paragraph in the beginning of the post and I wouldn't have had to scramble your brains about that main event.

So there you go. Nothing else to see here... wait, what? You already picked Dirk and Monta? Okay now I pity you. Good luck, buddy! ;)


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Staying Alive

Joe Johnson was pre-picked for Monday's game, but the Nets' win in Game 3 ensures that I can still pick Joe in Game 5. I still think the Nets will lose the series; it just gives me extra time to pick from the other teams facing elimination on this date.

The Bucks extended their series but are expected to fall to the Bulls on the road. I recommend staying away from picking a Buck -- we do not know where their PRAs will fall. Giannis and MCW teased us with their Game 3 burst, but then fell back to earth in Game 4.

The Blazers who are facing a sweep are the preferred source of picks. LaMarcus Aldridge is a must-pick for those saving him for elimination. I like Damian Lillard in Game 4 because Mike Conley will not play due to injury. I already used both, and so my pick goes to the trending Nicolas Batum. I hope to get high 20s from him.

Good luck with your pick.

Swept

While we ponder and figure out the series that is the Clippers-Spurs, three teams are on the verge of being swept: the Celtics, Raptors and Mavericks. And all three teams have different reasons why they may probably be eliminated today.

The Celtics, because of LeBron. I can imagine him saying to his young team, "Hey I know you guys think we can slack off in Game 4 coz we can fiinish them off in Game 5 back home. No! Let's finish them off now!"

The Raptors, because of Wizards fans. They did not take care of home court; now they have to contend not only with Pierce and his cohorts, but the whole kingdom as well.

The Mavs, because of themselves. What they have left on the floor is not what they envisioned during the season, neither before or after the Rondo trade. The absence of Parsons for me has the greater effect. Without him, Ellis and Dirk cannot do it.

As for our picks, I think we should not try to guess which of these teams get swept and then factor that in in our pick decision. See, all these three have good reasons to lose today. So just pick the best available player in these three team's pool, and go with that. Get your 30 and be happy.

I got Monta Ellis.

Sweep?

Down 0-3, the Pelicans and the Bucks are facing elimination. See if you have players capable of 30 PRA and pick the best before they potentially go home.

* Anthony Davis (PRA: 43. 39, 47)
* Tyreke Evans (PRA: 2, 33, 31)

If you still have The Unibrow, there is no reason in the world why you can't pick him now. Tyreke has two straight 30-PRA games already and should be a reliable source of 30 more.

* Giannis (PRA: 21, 21, 39)
* MCW (PRA: 16, 19, 32)
* Khris Middleton (PRA: 21, 28, 28)

Game 3 at home was quite good for Giannis and MCW. It took home cooking to trigger playoff zest for these two, and they should continue to produce in Game 4. Middleton, however, has been consistent since Game 2 and for me has the higher chance for a repeat than the first two.

My pick, however, will not come from these two teams. MCW and Middleton are the ones I have not picked yet, but I can easily replace their high 20-PRAs from the other losing teams later this Round 1. I hope to get 30+ PRA from the 0-2 teams Nets and Blazers.

* Brook Lopez (PRA: 31, 27)
* Joe Johnson (PRA: 29, 31)
* LaMarcus Aldridge (PRA: 47, 39)

I already picked Lopez and I like Johnson on elimination games (especially on the road if they go 5 games).

And so my pick goes to LMA.

Cards Down

Let me lay down my cards for the next few days. Note that they can still change.

Friday: DeMar DeRozan
Saturday: LaMarcus Aldridge
Sunday: Monta Ellis
Monday: Joe Johnson
Tuesday: Dirk Nowitzki

Explanations down in the comments. What's your pick plan?

The Last Stand

The Celtics, Bucks and Pelicans are all down 0-2 and are hoping to even up their respective series. Most of us see this as just delaying inevitability. It's time to scrape what's left of the stars and line them up for picking.

* Anthony Davis (NOLA). He is the hottest pick for a third of DTTF. He's been smoking and will continue to do just that. He has shown he can dominate. Let's see if he can carry this team to a win. Pick him if you haven't yet. If I'm his GM and they go down 0-3, I'll limit his minutes in Game 4 because I need him away from injury.

* Isaiah Thomas (BOS). The only reliable pick from the Celtics. He introduced himself to the world in good fashion in Games 1 and 2. Now it's time to treat the home crowd. Game 3 is his last chance to keep their hopes up.

* Giannis (MIL). Don't wait for MCW to shine, nor hope he ignites -- he had two games to prove himself and failed. A home game against the Bulls won't change that. Giannis is the only high PRA option there. Least of all four listed here.

* Tyreke Evans (NOLA). Game 1 was a head-scratcher, but his Game 2 showed that he is back. Playing at home will drive that point further. I already picked the three mentioned above, and so Tyreke gets my pick.

Which team can even up their series? 

Unfazed

The Clippers clearly outplayed the Spurs in Game 1, but the one thing that makes me admire the Spurs is that they don't get fazed. They got ran over early and any other team would have succumbed, but they stayed the course. I bet one loss means nothing to them. As with other series in the same 1-0 status, it's too early for a pick. Besides, there are no consistent 30-PRA'ers there. There's Kawhi Leonard if you insist.

LaMarcus Aldridge got picked early for some; and if you still haven't, Game 2 is not a bad place for him. If you already did, you might want to move Damian Lillard to Game 3 just to diversify.

The Nets players were not in serious contention to be picked because of their low PRA season averages, but Game 1 showed that Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson can still potentially get 30. If you have already picked a Blazer, these two are good pickups for Game 2. Johnson can still be the go-to-guy especially in the 4th quarter, but Lopez seems to be a better pick due to Al Horford's dislocated finger.

I pick... Lopez. 

Not Avoiding The Hot Pick

The Raptors let Game 1 go and gave away homecourt advantage to the Wizards. Suddenly DeMar Derozan is a hot pick (19%) and I don't blame those who are picking him. For the Raptors to get back in this series, they have to steal one back at Wizard's turf. Come to think of it, that's not entirely impossible. And they still own Game 7. I still think it's too early to write off the Raptors. There is still time to pick Derozan and Kyle Lowry later if it does go awry.

As for the Rockets series, 1-0 means little. 1-1 or 2-0 does. The Rockets were themselves and the Mavs were not, but Game 2 can tell us if this is a series or not. I am seeing flashes of Playoff Rondo, so there is still hope. We can revisit this matchup in Game 3.

Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas carved Game 1 for 37 PRA. I have to say he went under my radar and maybe most of you too, except maybe those 7% who follows him. It seems that Thomas has been tearing it up after the All-Star weekend, and I wished I have known that piece of info going into Game 1. That tells us the importance of research in this game. A quick Google could have shown me that.

Avoiding the hot pick is one of the strategies in this game. This is something I employ in the later rounds, and even then I don't do it just for the sake of being different. There has to be a good reason to do so -- a good alternative.

This time I have no better alternative for Isaiah Thomas. He gets my pick.

It doesn't hurt to flow with the wave in Round 1.

Bang For The Buck

Monday's game have two matches only, and it's a squeeze.

Most drivers picked a Pelican in Day 1, and the injury to Tyreke Evans put a damp on our plans. Another Pelican will take up the slack, but it is too early in DTTF to even figure and pick that player out. Quincy Pondexter had 35 PRA in Game 1, but who among you would bet he can repeat that and even get 20 PRA? For those who haven't picked Anthony Davis yet, you may want to hold on to him as their series may pose a shortage problem for you later on.

The Bucks, unfortunately, are what's left for us. Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo (seriously I had to type that) had abysmal shooting performances in Game 1. Both will look to bounce back, and it is a toss up. My coin fell and told me to pick The Greek Freak.

What did your coin give you?

Hmm Quincy is starting to smell better.

Thirty PRA

Unlike Day 1, this day's matches are more predictable. The Cavs, Hawks, Grizzlies and Spurs are all expected to advance to the Semis. There are four losing teams to choose from and a lot of options. However, I'll list just four ballers who averages at least 30 PRA. The Celtics and Nets just do not have consistent 30-PRA guys I can get excited about picking this early.

LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) 35 PRA.
Chris Paul (LAC) 33 PRA.
Blake Griffin (LAC) 33 PRA. 
Damian Lillard (POR) 31 PRA. 

For those who are confident the Clippers are heading to an exit versus the reigning champs, then picking off the Clippers stars early is the way to go, especially that DeAndre Jordan can give you high 20s later this series. For me, there is no doubt they'll lose, but the Clippers' homecourt advantage is telling me to just start the pick-off in Game 2. It does not hurt to wait just 1 game.

That leaves me with the Blazers. First we have Aldridge. 46 points, 18 rebounds. That is from his first game last playoffs at Houston. Many in DTTF missed that chance and surely may pick him this time in Game 1. But, I don't think he'll get that same performance. I watched his recent game in Dallas and he doesn't look like the Aldridge I know who decimates Texas. Not at all. That foot sprain still lingers. I'll wait til he gets one good game before I pick him.

My pick goes to Lillard. Nothing special about the timing, and no tricks. Just me wanting to get 30 PRA early in Round 1.

Good luck!

Day One, First Pick

I was pondering being tricky in my picks, even putting James Harden in there (haha okay okay!). However, it's too early and I like to continue with my pacing strategy from last year -- consistency and reliability early on, then informed risks late. So for Round 1 and the Conference Semis, expect my picks to be unexciting. Then some risky lane changes in the Conference Finals and the Finals.

On Day 1, we have four matches. Our polls and various articles have had mixed results regarding two of them -- Wizards@Raptors and Mavericks@Rockets. These two matches can go either way and it is way too early to decide. Even those with inside information (like one of our readers) and those who are die-hard fans (me!) should not rush into this because there are other options. It is better to wait and see.

As for those teams that are expected to lose, here are the top players according to season average PRA:

  • Anthony Davis (NOH) 36 PRA. Most popular pick, and most can understand that. Best player on losing team -- that has been the most popular strategy in this game since 2010, plain and simple. He also missed 14 games due to injuries, so it is wise to pick him early just to be safe.
  • Tyreke Evans (NOH) 28 PRA. A viable pick for those who can wait to pick Davis at home. However, let me convince you otherwise. Here are Tyreke's PRAs against the Warriors: 19 (away), 47 (home), 11 (away), 27 (home). Home and away numbers strategy, anyone?
  • Michael... MCW (MIL) 23 PRA. His numbers fluctuate, but if he can surprise people with his Philadelphia numbers, he can be the steal of the day. He certainly stuffs up the sheet, and is a triple double threat if he wants to. A pick for the cunning.
  • Giannis A... Greek Freak (MIL) 22 PRA. His actual average against the Bulls this year is 17 PRA. This is not a knock on his abilities, it is just a testament to the Bulls' suffocating defense. Pick him maybe at home or at elimination as a last resort.

With limited choices and my daily Round1 target of 30 PRA, the Unibrow gets my pick.


I told you it is unexciting.

May your Day 1 pick propel you!


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Not Steph Curry

The DTTF (Drive to the Finals) My Picks section is now open. Again for newbies, here is a tutorial on how to take your picks:
 http://nbadrivetothefinals.blogspot.com/2014/04/how-to-pick.html

First off, as always when DTTF starts, here is our foremost advise: Do not pick the best player. What you need to do is pick from the losing team. So trust us when we say, do NOT pick Steph Curry in Day 1, not even in Round 1. Remember the game rule: You can only use each player once throughout the entire playoffs. You will need Steph Curry in the latter stages of the playoffs.

Playoffs, Baby!

And now the fun begins.

A whirlwind of a final day of the regular season. New Orleans is in, OKC is out (yeah, head-shaker I know). Brooklyn is in, Indiana is out. Before we get to the matches, let us know what you think. Which teams will win Round 1?

West Round1 Winners?

East Round1 Winners?


And We're Back!

Welcome back guys and gals! DTTF is back :D

First things first, join our league:
League Name: nbadrivetothefinals

Let's do this !!!

We'll start playoffs preview here next week when the matches become clear. The game officially starts April 16, two days before playoffs begin. For now, if you are a newbie to this fantasy game, these are tips to prepare you get ahead:

The Psychology of LeBron

I am not supposed to write a post before the playoffs, but I've been itching to post this for months. Here we go...

Lost...

When LeBron left Cleveland, many were broken-hearted. I am sure this applied most to Cleveland, but as an NBA fan outside the United States, I saw this true as well to Cavaliers fans in many parts of the globe. They were put in a reflective mode: am I really a fan of LeBron, or the Cavaliers that had LeBron? After that, you'd be lucky to find anyone outside Cleveland who still remained a Cavs fan. Some die-hard LeBron fans followed him to Miami, but some did not.