As you can see here in that 3-year old poll (see bottom of right pane), the most popular strategy (nothing else comes close) is to pick the best player on the team you think will lose the series. Now that we are in our 4th playoffs here in this blog, that strategy seem so common sense now. Unconsciously, that is what most of us are doing already.
The rationale for this are, the best player...
1. May become injured later
2. Is a major part of a team's default system in Game 1, before the team adjusts dramatically and role-players become more prominent later in the series
3. Gives us the early boost; protecting a lead is a better feeling than catching up to someone
... and we...
4. Don't need to worry about taking risks with unorthodox moves
5. Don't need to research or overanalyze data, which if you think about it, are too small of a sample size anyway to even realistically indicate patterns
6. Remove the risk of losing that player whatever the reason
Here is my pick plan prepared right after being informed that Serge Ibaka is out of the playoffs due to injury. (Click to enlarge.)
Note that the default pick plan is based on this strategy, and sticking to my guns (Heat and Spurs to advance). Indicated also are Plan Bs whenever a threshold occurs that will cause me to switch.
I'll post my final Game 1 picks on my next entry. [UPDATE] I'll do it here. Roy Hibbert. Big big risk of not knowing what I'll get. He dominated the undersized Heat before. He just need to be on the right mood.
That's the plan.