Drive to the Finals Expert Pick: 5/6/08
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By Dave McMenamin

Our strategy for picking players in Drive to the Finals is strikingly similar to that of a bachelor trying to strike up a conversation at a singles bar.

You start with the best and work your way down.

We're not taking this mode of attack for the game because we expect to get shot down by the sexier picks and have to settle for role players, however.

Round by round, we identify what team is most likely to lose their series and then we go in and pillage their roster of their top PRA performers. Just like how you'd grab your laptop out of your house that was burning down before you would take your toaster oven with you, we want to make sure we select the losing team's All-Stars before we take their secondary players.

But we're straying from that methodology today.

Tuesday is unique because there is only one game. You have the Cleveland Cavaliers traveling to Boston to play their first game since Friday when they disposed to the Wizards in Game 6.

If you think the Hawks exposed chinks in the Celtics' armor by taking them to Game 7, then you would want to consider taking one of Boston's Big Three to make sure you choose them before the Cavs pull off the upset.

We're not thinking that way. Yes, the Celtics look vulnerable for a team that won 66 regular season games, and yes, the Cavs beat the C's twice during the 82-game slate, but we still think that Boston will take this series.

Anyway, back to all this laptop computer vs. kitchen appliance talk. Our choice is Zydrunas Ilgauskas today, and not the Cavs best player, LeBron James.

Why? I'll throw it to a succinct explanation cribbed from our DTF Experts panel e-mail dicussion sessions:

I know, this goes against first round strategy of starting with the best player on a team. It's no longer the first round. Reasoning here is simple. LeBron James averages a 47 PRA, the best of any player. This game is on the road. We will be forced to pick a player from this match-up again next Monday, May 12, when it's Game 4 and the only game of the day -- at Cleveland. Let's maximize points and save LeBron for a home game.

There you have it. Can't argue with that.

Ilgauskas averaged a 28.8 PRA in four regular season games against Boston this year.

He's a legit 7-3, so he gets offensive rebounds and points sometimes just by raising his arms above his head on tip-ins, and he has an excellent touch on his midrange jumpers.

If he has the 6-10 Kendrick Perkins and the 6-8 Leon Powe trying to stop him, he could be in for a big night.

Let's hope Big Z gives us a big PRA on Tuesday.

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Zydrunas Ilgauskas, CLEWhen: Tuesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. ET
Opponent: @ Boston
Pts: 14.5 Reb: 7.3 Ast: 1.5
Playoffs Average PRA: 23.3
Yesterday's Pick: Hedo Turkoglu, ORL
Expert Pick Playoffs Total: 465
Expert Pick Archive
1. LeBron James, CLE @ BOS (47.0 PRA)
2. Daniel Gibson, CLE @ BOS (16.8 PRA)
3. Kevin Garnett, BOS vs. CLE (33.8 PRA)
We have our reasons for saving the services of LBJ, but hey, nobody is going to blame you if you pick him for his lofty 47.0 PRA and hope he explodes on the C's to make a statement to start the series. If you want to save him until his back is up against the wall, and want to choose a teammate other than Ilgauskas, then Boobie Gibson could get you a PRA in the 20s if his shot is falling. If you think the Hawks taking the Celtics to seven games was a sign of Boston's early demise, then maybe Garnett is the right pick for you.
"Yesss! The experts picked me before LeBron!"
(David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images)

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