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May 26 -- Devin Harris
May 25 -- Richard Hamilton
May 24 -- Raja Bell
May 23 -- Tayshaun Prince
May 22 -- Dirk Nowitzki
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May 24 -- Hands off the Keys
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April 22 -- The Clock Ticks

Posted by By Jon Loomer on May 26, 2006 10:00 a.m. ET


You may have caught yesterday's brilliantly written Expert Pick by Robert Peterson. After huddling up for a fantasy summit in the NBA cafeteria, I convinced him that it was best to choose a top Pistons player as opposed to going with Ben Wallace. It was a complicated web of an argument, but we left the meeting feeling good about his final choice of Richard Hamilton.

Did I forget to mention the fine print? I wasn't thinking. He wasn't thinking. Jeff Dengate wasn't thinking. After all of that lack of thinking, I blame our brainlessness on Brad Friedman. He started this madness of picking Pistons players on Tuesday when he pegged Tayshaun Prince.

What am I talking about? Patience, I'm getting to that. We are in a good position out East right now, I've established that several times in the past. We headed into this series with every player available from both the Heat and Pistons. Given we had 12 total players from those two teams averaging 15 PRA or more, we appeared set for both the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals, regardless of what we have left out West -- which will be close to nothing.

Oh, except for one problem. If we pick three Pistons and Four Heat players during an extended seven-game series, we present ourselves with monster problems in the Finals. And so, the ideal strategy here is to stick with one team, no matter what happens.

Sure, we could bounce back and forth between Heat and Pistons players and handcuff ourselves for the Finals. But that gives us no chance to win this thing -- or at least finish in the Top 50. At this point in the game, you've gotta go for broke. Unless you're at the top of the leaderboard and want to protect your lead, you need to pick one path and follow it. Follow it to the death.

Friedman took Tayshaun Prince. In my mind, that determined our picking for the rest of this round. We could start picking Heat players next, but going down that path guarantees us of a far from pretty Finals. It is time to take a risk. And, to be honest, this may be a good risk.

Why? Two reasons. First, the Heat -- as bad as they looked in Game 2 -- stole away home court. That was their goal. Second, going this route wouldn't be a popular risk. For anyone who has been following our strategy so far, they have likely done one of two things: 1) picked only Miami Heat players, since they are the underdogs, or 2) bounced back and forth between the two teams.

So, if we go against the grain and pick Pistons players for the remainder of the series, we will either implode or rise steadily up the leaderboard. If we alternate between Heat and Pistons players, we will tread water where we are because we'll have little ability to move up in the Finals.

Following? Up until now, I've told you that it's all about careful planning, reading and reacting. Now, go with your gut. If you think the Pistons are going to win this series, pick Heat players and don't look back.

Then again, maybe you're in better shape than we are. If we had something left out West for the Finals, I'd be more willing to waver back and forth. There is no room for that now. Title or bust, baby. Or at least Top 50 or bust, but that doesn't have as nice of a ring to it.

So this is a preview to my Expert Pick on Saturday. That's right, I'll be going with Rasheed Wallace.