To Save or Not

It still is very early in the Conference Finals, but if the Cavs continue their championship-caliber play and the Spurs unfortunate injuries, then we should start planning for the Finals.

There are six 30-PRA prospects: James/Irving/Love and Durant/Curry/Green. Count Thompson in if you can catch him on his special game. That should be plenty enough to save for the Finals. The rest of the players in those two teams' pool are I'd say 20-PRA picks. What does that last bit mean?

It means that as long as you have 20+ PRA picks this round from the Celtics and the Spurs, then you are still on track and do not have to pull from the Finals pool. My picks:

Celtics-Cavaliers:
Game 2 Bradley
Game 3 Horford
Game 4 Crowder
Game 5 Smart
Game 6 Olynyk

Warriors-Spurs:
Game 3 Gasol
Game 4 Mills
Game 5 Green
Game 6 Simmons

After Gasol, there is not much consistent 20+ PRA choices from the Spurs. We may have to borrow one or two picks in advance from the Warriors. These shall replace the sub-20 PRA in this round. And in case the Finals extend to more games, then that's when we pick the sub-20 PRA.

I am thinking Curry in Game 4 instead of Mills. Let's see which of the Warriors play better this series.

Good luck!

UPDATE: Probably Manu Ginobili's last game. To me, a great player. He deserves a proper send-off. Game 4 pick: Manu Manu Manu!

Underdog

Congratulations to the Boston Celtics for winning that Game 7 and advancing to the East Finals! They deserve to be here.

But let's get into this "Underdog" discussion. The psyche of the underdog lies in the expectation to lose. If you are expected to lose, you don't get the pressure. You go into a tournament, enjoy it and be your natural best. You've got nothing to lose, and have everything to gain. Without the pressure to win, you can set your mind into other things like scouting the opponent and digging into the nitty gritty details. I've read somewhere that 3 out of 4 athletes love to be underdogs, and I understand why -- with only a portion of the athletes base able to fight for the Conference Finals (or corresponding Final Fours of other leagues), most of the players are by default underdogs.

Don Nelson loves it when the Mavs were underdogs. He enjoyed upsetting the odds and proving the basketball statistics wrong. Mark Cuban hated that by the way... because it assumed a culture of mediocrity. When the 2011 Mavs won it, the world may have seen them as the underdogs, but by that time the Mavs were already in a winning culture and in no way saw themselves the underdogs.

Maybe the young Celtics are in that phase "we are the underdogs". And that's alright if that works for them. Anything that can lit up the fire in them.

Let me light up a little bit more fire for them...

Cavs in 5. Game 1 pick: Isaiah Thomas.


And oh yeah West Finals Game 2: LaMarcus Aldridge as the re-injured Kahwi Leonard is expected to sit it out. Nevermind the Texas Aldridge plan, because this may be the only game that he will be the primary option. Kahwi can get back in Game 3 and be his usual self going forward, and thus Aldridge being the secondary option the rest of the West Finals.

Cheers!

Dream Match

Welcome to the West Finals, Warriors and Spurs!

When I saw that my $100 will earn $900 if I bet on the Spurs, I'm really tempted to do so. I really think that this year Kahwi Leonard has really ferried this team towards real contention. But, Tony Parker and Kahwi are injured. Without Tony's leadership on the floor and without a 100% Kahwi, I am not sure anymore.

Ah the Warriors... I'll save my thoughts on Durant and the Warriors for the Finals. For they are winning this series at full strength.

Sunday I got Kahwi Leonard if he plays. Pau Gasol if not. LaMarcus Aldridge gets my Game 3 pick playing at home in Texas... we all know this of Aldridge since we have been discussing that here since 2011, right?

Monday's Game 7 of Round 2, I got Markieff Moris. But if you have full strength Celtics/Cavs/Warriors/Spurs still, then I think it's alright to use a Celtic instead... which doubles as an insurance just in case the Wizards steals this one. Isaiah Thomas anyone? Come forward, brave souls!

Good luck!!!

Best Of Three

The Cavs and the Warriors swept their respective series.

The Celtics, Wizards, Rockets and the Spurs are going to Game 5 tied at 2-2. The Wizards are playing great, and the Rockets figured out the Spurs. In previous seasons, I would have said that if the Wizards and the Rockets win Game 5, then I'm picking a Celtic and a Spur in Game 6. Or along the lines of I want to make sure I don't lose the chance of picking the star players.

Not this season. I am sticking to my guns. If that means I will crash and burn in the Conference Finals and The Finals, then so be it. Boom or bust.

Game 5: Capela and Gortat
Game 6: Gordon and Porter
Game 7: Beverley and Morris

UPDATE: Staying the course, although Beverley seems good for Game 6 :)
UPDATE2: Switched Game 6 to Beverley because Mills is his opposing starter PG, and Gordon as third guard on floor seems less effective.

Injury Duty

Injuries change the makeup of a team, and the series. And our picks.

The Raptors lost Game 3 and are facing elimination Sunday. I said I am going to pick Ibaka but he seems focused on stopping James and that does not translate to fantasy points. On the other hand, Valanciunas seems to be playing better this series and especially without the injured Lowry. Valanciunas for Sunday.

Monday, I originally had Johnson, but I have to accept that this is never his series. Without the injured Hill, Mack seems to be the better choice, and he gets my pick.


Of course, stay tuned for injury updates here in the comments and the NBA news on the right panel of this blog. If Lowry and Hill play, we surely are changing our picks, even if it's the last minute before tipoff.

Good luck!

Guards of the Fantasy, Vol. 2

One thing I like about Google Drive To The Finals 2017 is that you can see the schedule all neat...


That May 7 has one potential sweep game (Cavs series) and two swing games (Spurs' and Celtics'). Make sure that by that time, you have picked the high rollers from the Raptors. From the Raptors, I still have DeRozan and Ibaka. If the Raptors win Game 3 (which they are expected to), then it's Wizards' Gortat for Game 4. Otherwise, it's Ibaka for me. Hoping for double-double either way.

As for the Spurs' series, I still think that the Spurs win it even though they lost Game 1 and Parker. They are winning either Game 3 or 4, and going back to a best-of-three series with homecourt advantage. Otherwise, it's a scramble for Leonard, Gasol and Aldridge -- I don't even want to think about that scenario. Pretty sure if Rockets win Game 3, a lot will be pushing the panic button. I won't be.

May 6 and 8 have just the Warriors' series. If you still have Hayward, good on you because the rest of us only have Gobert and an injured Hill. I have Gobert for May 6's Game 3. If Hill plays Game 3, then he's my pick for Game 4. Otherwise, I got Round1-hero-Round2-zero Johnson for Game 4.

Today May 5, it's DeRozan. He's not been himself in the first two games. Hoping a home game will change that. Can't go down 0-3 because that spells a series loss almost. What I want -- DeRozan goes nuts, Raptors win.


Good luck with your picks!

Welcome to Round 2... Kinda

Sunday brings us a Game 7 (UTA@LAC) and a Round 2 Game 1 (WAS@BOS). If you are thinking of picking a Wizard just so you are surely to keep either the Jazz or Clippers rosters intact for Round 2, that is a bad idea. It is better to wrongly pick a Jazz or Clipper who "might" reach Round 2, than to pick a player already in Round 2.

But which one? Do you pick a Jazz player because the Clippers are hosting? Or do you pick a Clipper because you believe they cannot win again without Griffin? If you are unsure like me, then join me in picking the best player among the pool of Jazz and Clippers. Mine is DeAndre Jordan.


As for the remaining of Round 2 games this week, I have preselected the stars of the teams which I think will lose: Rockets, Wizards, Raptors. I may still change some of those as whoever in Jazz and Clippers who will face the Warriors are most likely exiting early anyways.

Lazy picks? What do you think?

UPDATE:

Tuesday doesn't give me any reason to change my Wall pick as I don't have much Jazz players worthy as of current.

Wednesday though I am changing my pick from DeRozan to Lowry. I feel now that DeRozan will have a good game in a game they actually win. And it's not Game 2 on the road. I got him for Game 3 Friday.


Thursday, I have Beal tentatively. Or Gortat. Or Beal. Or Gortat.

Game Sixes

April 27 and 28 give us five game 6s, and for us, picks should be easy, right? Best available player remaining.

Thursday: M Conley MEM
Friday: C Paul LAC

Easy peasy!

Now, you can get fancy and not do that. If you want, you can pick based on which underdog you think can win Game 6 and force a Game 7. If I think Memphis can win Game 6, then I'll pick Buck's Khris Middleton Thursday, and then delay pick on Mike Conley for Game 7.

Except I think Grizzlies and Clippers are going down Game 6. Spurs are still ralatively old so they'll try to finish this off now and rest Tony Parker before Round 2. And Clippers are not a playoff team without Blake Griffin.

Good luck!

Eliminations and Tribulations

The Blazers are facing elimination against the superior Warriors, and it's a must-play to pick Lillard if you still have him. If you already have, then McCollum is still the safe play. Of course there's still inconsistency but we can live with a high 20s PRA from him.

Millsap and Schröder are good picks too for the 1-2 Hawks. They are better fantasy scorers than McCollum. I already picked those two and I do not see Dwight Howard giving me a double-double soon.

The Bucks and the Raptors' series is a little tough to crack now. Tied at two apiece, a Game 5 win is all it needs to force us fantasy players to start draining into the losing team's stars. If Raptors win (I hope), I only have Middleton left to pick. I am in no hurry to make that pick. If Bucks win, then it is a mad rush to pick DeRozan in Game 6, and potentially lose Lowry (because you are most likely to pick a Buck in Game 7 if needed).


Tuesday features an elimination game wherein the Rockets are looking to finish off the Thunder at home. Westbrook and the Thunder still have the fight, but they cannot win three straight games against the better team Rockets (even with a hobbled Harden). It's a must-play if you still have Westbrook available, and Andre Roberson for 25 PRA is a decent pick.

As for the other 2-2 matchups, anything can happen. The Spurs suddenly seem un-Spurs-like, and the Clippers are missing Griffin. However, if you are pretty confident in which team will not advance to Round 2, then you should start picking their stars now, because the logjam in games brought about the upsets will make it difficult to squeeze them in later. I myself can't fathom juggling Kahwi Lenard, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan for Game 6 and 7. If you feel Clippers can't advance without Griffin, then start picking Paul and Jordan now.

Are you taking the risk?

UPDATE: Jimmy Butler for Wednesday. Rondo practicing jumpers with a broken thumb and hurt wrist... there's something wrong in that. Celtics are back!

FP Fantasy Scoring

I think this should have been addressed earlier, but better late than never :P


Fantasy Postseason - League Settings (60719) 

Fantasy Scoring 
Per Point: 1.0 
Per Rebound: 1.0 
Per Assist: 1.0 
Per Block: 1.0 
Per Steal: 1.0 
Per Turnover: -1.0 
30 Points: 5.0 
Double Double: 3.0 
Triple Double: 8.0 

We've all been familiar with PRABS with last year's Drive & Slam, so we need not dive deep into that. But what is new to some of us who do not play regular season fantasy basketball, are these:

Turnover. Players prone to turnovers, especially some point guards, have little bit less value than usual. We all know that 5 fantasy points can be the difference between a great pick and an average one and a poor one. In picking a point guard, it might be good to look at the opposing player on the floor. A defensive-minded opponent will definitely contribute to more turnovers. One-dimensional ones (All O, no D) are the best opponents.

30 points. The playoffs are about defense. Low-scoring games and longer possessions are the norm. And thus it is unfair to expect a regular-season 30-point scorer to do it in the playoffs. This is where extra reading and watching player interviews come in place. By what you've read and seen, do you think a certain player is motivated to do more next game? 30 means 35 in FP.

Double double. Triple double. While double-doubles are quite easy to predict with rebound-heavy players, triple-doubles are harder to pin. I look at the playoffs and I see only LeBron James and of course record-holder Russell Westbrook. An additional 8 points is great for your fantasy scoring.

Westbrook got 88 fantasy points (88!) in Game 2. Wow! I don't see any pick besting that. But I still hope this Game 3 playing at home and down 0-2 are motivations enough for him to do something special. Less turnovers. 30+ points. Triple-double. Let's go! :)


UPDATE: Sticking with Dennis Schröder for Saturday. 2% owned. Cold.

UPDATE 2: Switching from Isaiah Thomas (who finally have a W) to Jeff Teague of the 0-3 Pacers. Teague as an unrestricted free agent soon doesn't hurt ;) I may be missing some chance to pick stars from the other series, but a 30+ from Teague ain't bad.

Triple Threat

Three games where the lower seed leads 1-0. It is possible that one of these series will have the lower seed advance to the 2nd round. But which one?

MIL@TOR. The Raptors should still win this series. It's just that Giannis and the Bucks are not looking like they are going to give the Raptors the chance. Lowry needs to assert himself more and the Raptors need to play D the way they are known for. I'll bet on the Raptors to figure it out, but I am willing to wait.

CHI@BOS. It is unfortunate, really, that Isaiah Thomas had to be put into his current situation. I know his beloved sister wouldn't want him to waste this opportunity. Seed 1. Now if only Butler and the Bulls stop suddenly being a different team like they were in the regular season. I want the Celtics to win this series.

UTA@LAC. Rudy Gobert is injured and Joe Johnson cannot carry this team every game. None of that is in Jazz's original script. This is a different team altogether, and they cannot possibly keep getting lucky. Paul, Griffin and Rivers are winning this series.

It's Gordon Hayward for me in FP and Google Drive ;)

Good luck to me :P

UPDATE: Millsap for Day 4 :)

UPDATE 2: Sorry quite busy week. George for Day 5 :) Some good advise below in the comments from everyone!

Day One Upsets

Upsets ruin plans. They do! When you see half of the games won by a lower seed and even the reigning champions almost lost, you start to say, "Oh no not another difficult fantasy playoffs!" :P

First, the Pacers was right there with the Cavs up to the very end. Losing by just a point, it could have gone the other way. I don't know about you, but I am not touching that series anytime soon. I still expect the Cavs to win the series, but let me see a 2-0 lead first before I pick Paul George. Nice pick by the way to those who picked him this game. He and Grizzlies' Marc Gasol turned out to be the better picks in Day 1.

Second, my pick Giannis and the Bucks have stolen Game 1 from the Raptors, and quite convincingly. I am happy with the result of the pick, but the win puts a damp on the plan. If Bucks win the series (just a big "if"), then that's one lost Giannis for me for the second round. I am not selecting from this series again until I see a 2-x lead.

Third, surprisingly Joe Johnson gave the Jazz a W, stunning the Clippers. An unfortunate early injury to Rudy Gobert (pity those who picked him) gave the Jazz a new look on the floor and they found a way to win. The Clippers are still too good to lose this series, but I wanna see a 1-1 first before I pick a Jazz.


My Day 2 pick stands as is... Blazer Damian Lillard. It's a safe pick as there is no reason the Warriors lose that series. No way. Hopefully Lillard brings his all in Game 1 playing in his hometown.

The CHI@BOS series -- I am reserving that for April 18's Game 2. The other games from that date are the Bucks' and Jazz's games, which are off-limits :)

ATL@WAS is interesting, and OKC@HOU is a must-see. Both series for me may go either way, and so let's see where the games take us. I do have Dwight Howard penciled-in for April 19's Game 2.

Good luck on your Day 2 pick!

2017 Playoff Hoops Contest

Weeeeee're back! The wait is over!

I would like to share with the community FantasyPostseason.com's 2017 Playoff Hoops Contest...

https://www.fantasypostseason.com/league/contest_signup/60719

Hurry up and sign up now as we only have a few hours before the first game begins :)

Kudos to FantasyPostseason.com as they have stepped up big time this year to fill the gap left by the defunct NBA.com's Drive To The Finals. Love the user interface! Love the search feature! Love it! Love it! Love it!

Hey, for those new to this blog, feel free to browse the blog archive which you can find on the right panel. Where to start? The first picks for each playoffs are the best source for the clueless. Remember to choose wisely... you can only select a player once in the whole playoffs ;)

Let's jump right on it...


April 17 features only two games: IND@CLE and MEM@SA. I know which teams I think are expected to lose their respective series, but just to be sure I should not touch any of these teams in April 15. Just imagine picking a Grizzly for April 15 and then Pacers win Game 1... you will be forced to pick another Grizzly for April 17! Not only is that suboptimal, it's also a hassle if the Grizzly series extends. (See, I learn that strategy from our readers!)

So for April 15, I am left with MIL@TOR and UTA@LAC. The Clippers are tough to beat when healthy, and I don't think the Jazz has what it takes to get deep these playoffs. But that is still a 4-5-seed matchup, and the Jazz are at least capable of winning one of the first three games. And so, I am picking from the Bucks...

Giannis Anteto...umm...ko...u... The Greek Freak! This year I'm taking the best player available approach. I will still beat around the bush as we go (I always do), but I should not go wrong with this pick. The Raptors are strong this season, and I expect them to play their own game early on. It will take them a desperate game later on to even think of changing their game plan to account for Giannis and the "position-less" Bucks.

Good luck with your first pick, and welcome back ;)