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.

44 comments:

  1. Here's where I stand at the moment:

    Atlanta: Full slate
    Cleveland: Full slate
    Chicago: Butler (31); Rose (31)
    Washington: Gortat (25)

    Golden State: Full Slate
    Houston: Harden (39); Howard (43)
    Los Angeles: Full Slate
    Memphis: Gasol (24); Randolph (34)

    At the moment, I don't think it's best to look at all 4 series together. I think I need to make a decision for each series, independent of what is going on elsewhere.

    At 2-1, I think Atlanta has a good chance to make it 2-2. Washington got lucky yesterday to win it, that's without Millsap being anywhere near his best because of the flu. I don't think Wall comes back, I think Atlanta makes it 2-2 and have no problem continuing the strategy of picking Wizards. It's going to be either Beal, Porter or Sessions tomorrow for me.

    Chicago-Cleveland: Doesn't look like Gasol will play today. Even without this, I think Cleveland win. Again, Chicago squeaked by last game despite a terrible performance from Kyrie. If you believe in the Bulls, pick Kyrie for a bounceback tonight. If not, Noah may be your best bet with Pau sidelined.

    Golden State-Memphis: Memphis are playing out of their minds, Curry and Thompson are both struggling. This needs to happen two more times for Memphis to advance. It won't.

    LA-Houston: Los Angeles are looking very, very good, despite Houston's not playing all that bad. Pick Houston without too much trouble.

    I'm sticking to my guns. I think all but Houston-LA will be 2-2 after tomorrow.

    Today's pick: Joe-Kim Noah.
    Tomorrow's pick: Bradley Beal?

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  2. What a difference a couple of games makes. Almost anyone thought Memphis would be eliminated and Golden State would be the team "easily" moving on to the next round. The Warriors were the #1 seed after all, and were just about unbeatable at home (only 2 losses during the regular season). Then the unthinkable happened, Golden State lost Game #2 at home (loss 3 on the year), and they looked horrible doing it. Then in Game #3 @ Memphis, most expected the Warriors to come out and play much better. However in fact that never happened at all. Memphis dominated throughout Game #3, and the Warriors looked quite pathetic again. They did get the game down to single digits in the 4th quarter, but with a couple of key buckets down the stretch, the Grizzlies survived that run, and took a 2-1 lead in this series, with every chance to win Game #4 back at home. I still can't envision the Warriors losing another home game to Memphis with their stellar home record, but I could definitely see the Grizzlies taking Game #4 and going up 3-1 with another pathetic performance by Golden State and Stephen Curry. Still can't write off the Warriors yet, but they really need to get their act together and soon. This series most likely has at least 3 games left regardless, as the Warriors definitely should win their home game to force at least a Game #6, and if it gets to a Game #7, you definitely have to like the Warriors on home court.

    As for the Washington vs. Atlanta series, the Wizards got things done on home court, although it took a buzzer beater by Paul Pierce to make that happen. Both teams were missing key players. John Wall for the Wizards, Paul Millsap didn't play much or well while battling the flu and not starting. Still can't see Atlanta losing at home without John Wall playing for the Wizards. So this series has at least 3 more games as well.

    It is not panic time yet, but after Game #4, you should have enough indication on at least a couple of these games to make an informed decision on what teams to use up, and which ones to stay away from. At least I hope that happens. I never thought the Warriors vs. Grizzlies series would be this difficult as it has turned out. Atlanta vs. Washington always did appear that it would come down to the end, possibly a Game #7 decision.

    Best picks: This was a rare occasion where you could easily say the best picks came from the team that actually won. Otto Porter (30 PRA) had another big effort off the bench and Nene (28 PRA) came out of hibernation to show signs of life finally. In the case of Nene, he has done next to nothing in this entire series, so if you had him, Congrats! Can't really see how or why he actually woke up here yesterday, or why you would want to play him other than being short on options and he is a starter. Also thought his emergence probably hurt those that picked Marcin Gortat overall.
    If you actually wanted the best pick from a team that actually lost, Jeff Teague (29 PRA) would be your pick. Although I would argue both Porter and Nene were better choices for several reasons., even though they came from the winner.

    Horrible pick: Paul Millsap (12 PRA)

    My pick of Ramon Sessions (17 PRA) was kind of disappointing and less than his Game #2 stellar 28 PRA effort. Of course it wouldn't be me, if I actually picked a player on his best day. That simply can't happen, or at least hasn't this year, other than Anthony Davis.

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    1. "Of course it wouldn't be me, if I actually picked a player on his best day. That simply can't happen, or at least hasn't this year,"... it is not possible for me to pick a player on his best day either, my only exception was DeMar DeRozan.

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  3. For today, Cleveland is down 1-2 with another game @ Chicago. The Cavs have very few options, and I would never pick LeBron before he was playing an elimination game. Also LeBron James is probably the only player in the league, maybe a couple of others, that can take his team on his back and actually win, with no one else on his team doing anything. That always gives his team a chance, and you can't really write them off. Most teams having only one great player functioning at a high level (apparently Irving is hurt), would be hard pressed to win their series against another playoff team. Don't trust these teams, don't trust this series. The only consideration here is taking whoever replaces Pau Gasol, if he doesn't play due to his hamstring injury.

    Ideally the series to pick from is the Houston vs. LA Clippers one. It is the much higher scoring series and the Clippers have looked ultra impressive and seem the most likely team of any of them to make quick work of the Rockets and move on to the next round. Houston has about 4 decent options (Terrence Jones, Trevor Ariza, James Harden and Dwight Howard), and I already picked two of those and got the worst games possible from both Jones (8 PRA) and Ariza (13 PRA) to my frustration and total infuriation. Both of these players should have been at least 20 PRA, and Ariza had a Playoff high of 30 in Game #2. So obviously I can't wait for this series to be over. The Houston players are ridiculously inconsistent. But in any case, this series definitely has 2 more games left, 3 if Houston wins at home. Unfortunately they don't have more than 3 players for me to pick, and that is if you include Jason Terry.

    Right now I am leaning towards picking Dwight Howard for Houston, but I might switch to whoever replaces Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard had a monster game in Game #2 in Houston (43 PRA) and was well on his way to another great effort in Game #3 (24 PRA at halftime), but only ended up with 30 total PRA in Game #3, so Dwight Howard definitely went to sleep after the half. I would really like to see something closer to that 43+ PRA game than the 30 PRA one. However all of this may change depending on what substitutions I see and who replaces Pau Gasol or not.

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    1. Stay away from Pau's replacement. At game 4, with Harden, Howard, and all the good Bulls/Cavs remaining, I think now is the time to go big.

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  4. Tonight is going to be Harden's night. He's already talking about being more aggressive. It's a good sign. Between Howard and Harden, I'd play Harden and save Howard for home, if possible.

    For me, I've decided to avoid panic for now and stay the course. Most of DTTF will pick a Hawk or Warrior on Monday, and if I'm right that the top seeds recover, I'll have a huge advantage. If I'm wrong, well, uh oh.... I think my pick is going to be Otto Porter Jr. I like how the Hawks stormed back, and I think they will be alright. If Wall was still playing I'd think otherwise, but without Wall, I'm betting that the Hawks come back and tie it up. Not as sure about the Warriors. They are obviously an amazing team, so I like them to tie it up, but the Grizzlies are very good, and can easily pull off the 3-1 lead. That's why I'm going with a Wizard. I'm more confident in Atlanta than I am in Golden State. I can't believe I just said that.

    Tonight's game might impact tomorrow's picks. I like the Clippers to go up 3-1, the Hawks and Warriors to tie it up at 2-2, and the Cavs and Bulls to.... ???? That one could go either way. The Bulls are a better team, but it's tough to bet against LeBron. Hopefully patience is a virtue and I'm not dealing with many 3-1 disasters after Monday. May the odds be ever in your favour indeed.

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  5. Replies
    1. Sounds like Harden should be played but sadly I used him in Game 1 and only got 37 out of him.

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    2. sorry late reply. hope you picked harden as aceee suggested

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    3. I picked Harden but I expeckted over 40 PRA, but when I look on Dwight PRA I'm happy about my choice

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  6. I'd like to save Dwight Howard for Game 5, just because he is across the 25% threshold and the most owned with 28%, but if the Bulls win today, then the same day that has Game 5 of this series, will have Game 5 of Bulls/Cavs with LBJ's team facing elimination and I'll be forced to pick him, so incase both teams lose in 5, I have to pick Dwight Howard since I'm more confident the Rockets will lose (though not sure if they'll force Game 6) then the Cavs who will be more likely to force an extra game if they don't tie things up today.

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    1. Even though the Cavs lost Game #1 at home, I am not really afraid of the Cavs losing Game #5 at home. LeBron would definitely not let that happen. In Game #2 in Cleveland, the Cavs destroyed the Bulls.

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  7. Pau Gasol now definitely out for Game #4.

    Taj Gibson should be good for at least 20+ PRA in his absence. Unless Nikola Mirotic ends up being tonight's star in Pau Gasol's absence. Both seem destined to put up better than normal numbers with Gasol out. It's just a matter of which one (or both) flourish). In the case of Taj Gibson he has had several 20+ PRA games vs. the Cavs in the past and even had 33 PRA once in a start vs. them. So Taj Gibson will be my pick today.

    Hopefully Houston wins their home game, and loses that series, and then pick Harden/Howard at home, and play the other on the road in the series finale. If everything goes according to plan, that would be exceptional, regardless of what Chicago and Cleveland end up doing.

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  8. I'm happy with a Cleveland win and 23 from Noah. Very happy. Next pick will be either Pau or Gibson depending on injury.

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  9. Hmm... did I mention I didn't have internet connection for the last two days? So I didn't learn that Irving is currently hurt, and since I had him picked before that I am now stuck with having lost the second best Cav for a measly 18 PRA. And round 1 went so well...

    Yesterday I had Z-Bo and I am happy with his 33, especially as he was better than my alternate pick Beal.

    For tomorrow I have no idea. I was too late to whine about all series being 2-1 for the lower seeds with only the Clippers being the favorites to win before the series started, and now the Cavs won and took homecourt back. I am down Irving and am now thinking of picking Butler for game 6. That means I need Howard for game 5.

    Doesn't help for my pick as these are the games on the even days. Tomorrow is an odd day.

    I really think the Warriors can win this series. I also think it might be possible for the Grizzlies to go up 3-1. Maybe the Hawks really have a better chance to tie it up? I think I will go to that series.

    And it's about time I listen to you guys and will go with about the fifth best option of the Wizards, Otto Porter. He is on a roll, scoring 22, 28 and 30 in the series. Hope that trends continues for one more game.

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  10. Are you kidding me, already 2 fouls on Dwight Howard! That of course happened for 1 reason... I picked him!

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    1. Oh not to mention a technical foul, meaning 1 more and I'm screwed!

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    2. Early in the 2nd quarter, DW has 3PFs and a TF
      #DTTFsDevilstrikesagain!

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    3. lol I swear ace you have to tell us who you pick every day so we can avoid that guy LOL

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    4. DW fouled out of the game with just 14 PAR, what a disgusting disgrace of a performance! After this stunt, I think my season is done, I'll still play though. Another sad "Wake me up when the finals end" song, is coming only this time it's coming 2 rounds earlier!

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    5. i remember having a 2nd round in the past the way you have now, but i still ended up 90+ percentile in the end. lots of basketball left.

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    6. And Trevor Ariza who I would not pick since he is invisible on the road, got 29 PAR, double +1 as many as DW!

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  11. Picked mirotic today. 6 pra. Awesome........ but my other choices were gibson or irving and they all sucked so nothing I can do. Session yesterday mirotix today and barnes last week a combine 40 pra, sighhhhhh

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  12. damn, howard's a goner now with his season low 14 PRA. What is Happening with these HOT picks, they've been below their average these past few days.damn!

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    1. just bad luck. clippers just know DH's value so they attacked him

      hack-a-jordan was silly btw

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    2. That's the only luck that exists here!
      Apparently DW got a 2nd tech when he fouled out so he fouled out and was ejected!

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  13. I am very happy to get a 29 from Ariza. Had no idea what to expect. Extremely lucky, because I didn't really like him to do well tonight. With that, my Rockets are done. 43 from Howard, 39 from Harden, and 29 from Ariza, and now I can safely focus on the Bulls vs. Cavs series. Time for Jimmy Butler in hopes that Pau Gasol can get healthy for Game 6.

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  14. All throughout the game, the Rockets looked flat because of their Hack-a-Jordan strategy. Yes, it has done its purpose midway in the first half. However, by doing that strategy, they too have lost their rhythm offensively; as evident in their third quarter brain fart. Harden was his own self (with no D) in the blowout game with 35PRA; but ultimately, outscoring Howard's 14PRA with 28% ownership was gold.

    Tomorrow, I am going with Jeff Teague. Still believe that the Hawks will win G4 and the series as well. Saving Gasol or (hopefully not) Curry for the upcoming days

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  15. Who is the best pick tonight? Any Suggest? I thinking that Atlanta win tonight so maybe Gortat or Porter will be a good choice? What do You think?

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    1. I'm going with gortat tonight since I believe the hawks will win lol be my partner

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    2. Thinking of taking Sessions.

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    3. Picked him last game. Rest of Wizards available

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  16. LeBron James hit a buzzer beater to take down the Chicago Bulls in Chicago to even that series at 2-2 in a very exciting competitive game. Now with Cleveland getting 2 of the next 3 games at home, and the fact that they destroyed the Bulls in Game #2 at home, I like the Cleveland Cavaliers to move on to the next round in this series, even if takes all 7 games to do it. So any further picks will be made from the Bulls roster for this series going further. I am fairly confident now that Cleveland will win this eventually, even with Kyrie Irving playing way below average. So feel free to pick Bulls players.

    In the other game Houston vs. LA Clippers, what an absolutely horrible game of basketball. The Hack-a-Jordan strategy not only is incredibly boring to watch, it also completely ruins the flow of the game for both teams. Sure Jordan can't make a free throw if his life depended on it. Sure it would be so much easier if he could just make a damn free throw, then the fouling would end immediately as Houston has enough trouble on their own, rather than give away free points at the line. However all of the teams that try this don't realize one thing. Not only do you ruin the flow for the DeAndre Jordan's team, you also ruin the flow for your own team. Houston can't do anything either while this is happening. It might work briefly, but over the course of long stretches of a basketball game, it stops everything from flowing. It is incredibly boring to watch and will drive viewership down quickly. Should NBA players be able to make free throws at a decent enough percentage? Absolutely. But obviously in the case of Jordan, or Dwight Howard, or Shaq, etc., they don't. However the league and the television money that drives it, isn't going to allow this to happen next year. Changes will be made, whether certain announcers like it or not, or whether it is even the right thing to do rules-wise. Changes will be made because it is horrific to watch, and the last thing the NBA wants is a drop in ratings and viewership. So I expect dramatic changes to this strategy to happen for next year and beyond. Either that or these players could actually learn to make a free throw, as that would be the simplest solution. Or if a team keeps fouling the same player, take him off the court, and get the flow back to your team and the game. It is fairly obvious, at least in this series that the Clippers don't need DeAndre Jordan to annihilate the Rockets. All this strategy does is delay the inevitable here, and bore everyone to death in the process.

    It is fairly obvious Houston is finished in this series, it is just a matter of whether this ends in 5 games or 6, if Houston wins their home game (which seems not likely at this point), and forces a Game #6 where they would get slaughtered again.


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  17. Best picks from losing teams: Trevor Ariza (29 PRA), Derrick Rose (37 PRA), and James Harden (35 PRA), although this is kind of
    disappointing from him. DeAndre Jordan had 45 PRA helped greatly by the Hack-a-Jordan strategy, which would be extremely hard for him to replicate. Best case scenario DJ is normally a 28-35 PRA player. So he did way better here last night. However Jordan's team won, so you can debate whether he was the best pick or not based on that, and neither would be wrong in my opinion.

    Horrible picks: Kyrie Irving (18 PRA) and Dwight Howard (14 PRA + ejection), both were way below their average.

    My pick of Taj Gibson (16 PRA) was not stellar by any means, and it is hard to believe he posted the same score, or slightly lower than his best playoff performance (one 20 PRA and three 18 PRA efforts), despite getting to start in place of Pau Gasol and playing many more minutes than he normally plays. Kind of hard to fathom that. Glad I did not pick Nikola Mirotic (horrendous 6 PRA), and real glad I switched away from Dwight Howard (14 PRA) to Gibson. Even though Taj Gibson and Dwight Howard had nearly the same score (+2 PRA actually), I would be far more livid if I picked Howard and he had that worthless lack of effort when I did. So I was spared from that, but still it was a disappointing night overall.

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  18. For tonight, Memphis has been strong the last two games vs. Golden State, and get another game at home tonight. If they win tonight, they very well may win this series, and would get a chance to wrap things up in Memphis for Game #6. One way or the other, I would definitely think that Golden State will win Game #5 at home. The Warriors only lost twice during the regular season, and a third time vs. these same Grizzlies in this series. So it would be hard to fathom with those odds that the Warriors would punt another home game in this series. Still if Memphis wins their home games, they can win this series, especially how they have totally dominated Golden State in the last two. Tonight's game is pivotal in this series.

    The same can be said for the Atlanta vs. Washington series. Tonight's game will give you the direction you need to make informed decisions going forward with how this series will likely turn out. This is a close tight series that isn't going to be decided quickly and might very well go the distance. Still a Washington win tonight greatly improves their chances of advancing, and if Atlanta wins this on the road, it greatly improves the Hawks chances of moving on.

    Both of these series right now are too close to call, but after tonight it should help a little, maybe even a lot to know how this will play out.

    For my pick tonight, I will pick a Washington player, even though they are at home and have a 2-1 lead. I pick Otto Porter of the Wizards. Porter has been very decent and very consistent in this series getting extra minutes to shine with the absence of John Wall, and seems to be getting better with each game. (22 PRA, 28 PRA, and 30 PRA vs. Atlanta in this series). Hopefully Otto Porter can post another decent 25+ PRA performance tonight.

    I thought about picking Nene after his big 28 PRA wake up performance in Game #3 after doing nothing, for the rest of the series, but I have zero confidence in him or in him doing that again based on his complete disappearance in the other games he has played. Marcin Grotat also might be a decent pick for tonight at home.

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  19. Okay, Kyrie Irving was a waste of a pick, but what can you do? The Cavs won and will probably win again in g5 and go to the conf finals where neither the Hawks nor the Wall-less Wizards will be able to stop James from reaching the fifth Finals in a row in an incredible laughable joke of a conference. Sometimes I think if Dirk would have played for the team that originally drafted him (the Bucks), he would have played in at least five Finals in his day. But I digress.

    Tonight I' ll roll the dice with Otto Porter, hope he continues his upward trend in this series. Would be even better if the Hawks would tie the series despite a great game by Porter. Hoping for 30+, be happy with 25+, okay with 20+.

    Then it will be Howard. I sincerely hope he will at least try to redeem himself. Grab some rebounds, stay away from the stupid fouls, make some FTs when the Clippers start Hack-a-Howard, and deliver some good PRA, please. I don't really care if the Rockets win or lose because I will be done with this series after game 5.

    THEN I may be forced to pick Curry, or maybe Millsap, depending on which number 1 seed will be down 1-3. If they both tie it up, well, I will decide when that happens.

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    1. Alex, a rookie Dirk and an unorthodox Don Nelson were perfect for each other. Bucks would have played Dirk back-to-the-basket like Traylor and he would have returned to Germany and would have never developed enough to even give Germany their Olympics berth.

      Then a growing Dirk and a then-generous Mark Cuban were perfect for each other. They've been loyal to each other. Bucks owner would just trade Dirk before he gets to his peak.

      Then at-peak Dirk and defensive-minded Avery were perfect for each other. With Avery, Dirk and the Mavs started embracing defense in route to Finals. Bucks coach would have just accepeted he is not a Barkley type player and let him shoot midjumpers all day, and off the bench.

      Then a wiser Dirk and a strategist Carlisle and a much wiser Kidd and a healthy Tyson were perfect for each other. You know what happened. Bucks maybe will still eventually have coach Kidd but too late and now have no Dirk in roster.

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  20. "May the odds be ever in your favor." The odds were anything but in my favor yesterday with that Dwight Howard DTTFs disaster! It's a miracle I only lost 3 percentile, I wasn't even certain that I would be at 40% let alone 54%, I guess 28% taking DH helped.

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  21. I had one of GS's big 3 picked and I felt like changing to Porter, hearing that Wall is still out but I didn't realize their game was at 7:00 so I'm stuck picking in the GS/MEM game. Now if MEM wins that series, it will most likely be in 6 which means now would be the time to start picking GS's Big 3, if they were to shockingly lose in this round. Of course they could very well tie things up tonight which would not be good if I took a Warrior, but I don't like the thought of losing 1 of their Big 3.

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    1. I switched to Marc Gasol, despite the Grizzlies leading 2-1 and having homecourt advantage, I don't bet but the Warriors are -245 to win the series at this point despite that (were -3000 after game 1), also I'd get more out of the Warriors scorers, so I have to lean them advancing despite the Grizzlies not even playing in their 2nd to last game let alone their last because I didn't realize the Wizards game was at 7, but it looks like I would not have done well, Porter only got 12 PAR so if GS wins, missing that start time was a good thing in disguise. Gortat ended up with only 11 so the 25 I got from him doesn't look that bad. Meanwhile Beal got 47, no doubt the pick of the day (great performance in a losing cause), dang I will probably need to hope for his 2nd best performance now. Pierce also added 28 PAR.

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    2. Things look great with my choice, Gasol has 20 PAR at half AND the Warriors are up by 17!

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    3. I wanted to get 35+ from Gasol in a losing cause and got 35 in a losing effort! Strong bounce back from the DH disaster, my 2nd wise pick (Tim Duncan G7) and 1st brave pick and to think I could have taken Klay Thompson who got 19 for the winner... whew!

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  22. My Bradley Beal pick in a losing effort was so clutch. I needed that badly. Next up Dwight Howard followed by Mike Conley and probably Derrick Rose. Starting to climb in the ranking and still have all my warriors, Hawks and all Cavs (except shumpert), down 2 clippers like most of us.

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  23. Otto Porter was the most terrible pick so far in DTTF this season...
    Still last place in my own League with only 53% :/

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