Flip the script with Murray.
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Posted by By Jon Loomer on May 15, 2006 5:36 p.m. ET


Let me preface the following comments with an admission. I picked Tim Duncan in all three of my Drive to the Finals playoff fantasy leagues for today's games and then switched. So, taking Tony Parker -- as our resident expert John Schuhmann has done -- is not nuts.

That said, it is incridibly risky. Not lose your home and family risky, but risky in the way that makes you beat your head against the wall two weeks from now. Some can stand that type of annoyance and head lumpage. I try to avoid it.

Here's my thinking: The Spurs have three players with postseason PRA's exceeding 14.0: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. By taking Tony Parker out of the mix, there are now two Spurs worth picking. The reason the pick was made for today is that the Spurs are down 2-1 and face possible elimination.

What if the Spurs win today?

Suddenly, the series is knotted up 2-2, the Spurs regain home court and shed the underdog label. You are then looking at a potential NBA Finals participant with two players remaining to get you there. Not to mention that, as Schuhmann pointed out, Ginobili has been far from dependable this postseason.

I think you immediately second-guess that pick if the Spurs win. Even if the Mavs win, what are the odds they follow up that win with a series clincher? With the Spurs down 3-1, you should have no problem picking two more Spurs prior to the end of that series.

The ultimate goal is to pick players only from one team -- the eliminated team -- during each series so that you have a full slate of players available for the next round. If you pick Parker today and the Spurs win tonight's match-up, you are suddenly thinking about picking a Mav for Game 5. And if you are like me, you already picked a Mav or two earlier in the series since they entered as underdogs.

Don't get me wrong. I have no place questioning anyone's "expert" moves. This past weekend, I selected Drew Gooden (14 PRA) and Richard Jefferson (23). While their production was weak to say the least, I did do one thing right: I picked players on teams that are underdogs today as they were on Friday. Picker's Remorse occurs when you pick a player (see Suns, down 3-1 to the Lakers) prior to his team's reversal of fortune. I feel good that these picks will not come back to haunt me.

And today's alternate to Parker? Flip Murray. To be honest, this should have been my pick on Saturday. With Larry Hughes out, Flip will continue to see a high number of offensive looks. And points, of course, count most heavily towards your final PRA.

I realize my picks aren't popular. They look ugly. Some may even go so far as to call them ooogly. But there is a plan here. Let's take a look at the rest of this week's action and what I'm plotting, based on the picks made by the experts so far:

Tuesday - Game 5
Nets (1) @ Heat (3)
Clippers (2) @ Suns (2)
Given that we've selected three Suns (Marion, Nash and Diaw) and two Clippers (Kaman and Cassell) already, I see no reason to make this situation any messier until someone goes up 3-2. This may very well go the full seven games with the Suns winning Game 5 at home and the Clippers winning Game 6 in LA. Given that Nets-Heat is an elimination game, the pick is easy. We haven't yet picked Jason Kidd, so he has to be the choice here.
Pick: Jason Kidd

Wednesday - Game 5
Cavs (1) @ Pistons (2) *
Mavericks (2) @ Spurs (1) *
In all likelihood, the Pistons will be up 3-1 for this day, and your guess is as good as mine on Spurs-Mavericks (I wrote this before Monday's games). If the Mavericks go up 3-1, I'll take Duncan here. By the way, I disagree with my counterparts on the strategy of saving stars and instead taking second tier players from the same team. Barring reserving the player for home court, I see no reason to start anywhere but at the top. If the Spurs tie this series up, I'm going with Ilgauskas.
Pick: Tim Duncan (if Mavs up 3-1); otherwise Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Thursday - Game 6
Heat (3) @ Nets (1) *
Suns (2) @ Clippers (2) *
This is assuming the Nets win Game 5 to survive another day. If so, Nenad Krstic is an option. If the Clippers are up 3-2 at this point, I'll be tempted to take Raja Bell or Tim Thomas, given that the Clippers will be playing this elimination game at home. As I keep saying, I want to avoid the flip-flop effect of taking a player from one team today and another for the following game when momentum shifts. If the Suns are up, I'll be taking Elton Brand. Even if the Clippers win this game, they would also need to win Game 7 in Phoenix to advance.
Pick: Nenad Krstic (if Nets still in and Clippers up); otherwise Elton Brand

Friday - Game 6
Pistons (2) @ Cavs (1) *
Spurs (1) @ Mavericks (2) *
Now that we've essentially used up all decent Cavs, we have no choice but to dip into Spurs and Mavs. Not to mention, I highly doubt the Cavs-Pistons goes six games. A second "not to mention": This series may not even go six games if the Mavs win out. However, if it gets this far and the Mavs are up 3-2, it would make sense to use Tim Duncan or Tony Parker here -- depending on whether I used Duncan on Wednesday. Saving Duncan until now makes more sense when you consider what happens if the Spurs win this game: They will be playing Game 7 in San Antonio. At that point, you have only Ginobili and Parker left from the Spurs, but the odds of them advancing on their home court are very good. If the Mavericks are down at this point, I'll pick Jason Terry.
Pick: Tim Duncan (if Mavericks up and Duncan not used Wednesday); Tony Parker (if Mavericks up and Duncan used Wednesday); otherwise Jason Terry

-- NO GAMES --

Sunday - Game 7
Nets (1) @ Heat (3)
Cavs (1) @ Pistons (2)
A curveball here as both Eastern Conference games are now played on the same day. I continue to ignore Cavs-Pistons as I am out of decent Cavs players and it isn't likely the series will go to seven games. With the Nets at Miami, I'd have to reach for one final Nets player. More reason to select Brand on Thursday so that Krstic will still be available if I need him.
Pick: Nenad Krstic (if not previously taken on Thursday); otherwise Jason Collins