Wade is a great player, but is he a smart pick for Day One?
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THE CLOCK TICKS
Posted by By Jon Loomer on April 21, 2006 11:23 p.m. ET

PLAYOFFS BEGIN -- REAL AND FANTASY

Welcome to my first ever blog. Never blogged before, so I apologize in advance if I break any sacred blogging edicts. I've been told that good blogging etiquette includes a lack of capitalization and refusal to use spell check. Poetry and song lyrics help. Whoomp, there it is.

So you'll see me in this spot, just about every day, as often as I can, throughout the playoffs (overuse of the comma a characteristic of a good blog?). I'll drop my two cents on the playoffs, our playoff fantasy games, and whatever else I feel like blabbing about. Ready? Let's get at it.

We've got this new game called Drive to the Finals Presented by AutoTrader.com (plug, plug), if you hadn't already noticed. If you hadn't noticed, we're not promoting it well enough. A different "expert" (we use that term loosely) will be offering their own pick for this game for each day of the playoffs in an attempt to provide you with some good, solid guidance towards a victory -- and potentially some nice prizes.

Turns out that you guys must not take my "expert" tag very seriously. I launched the articles with a pick of Mike Bibby for Day One. Beginning Thursday, I posted a poll asking you all who you were picking for the first day of this game. As of this second, here are the results:

LeBron James (37%)
Dwyane Wade (23%)
Gilbert Arenas (9%)
Carmelo Anthony (7%)
Mike Bibby (7%)
Tim Duncan (7%)
Elton Brand (6%)
Kirk Hinrich (4%)

Ouch. In other words, you all think I'm nuts. On a positive note, that number of 7% for Bibby has made a significant leap from 4%. That 3% increase is good for my ego.

What do I think? I don't think you're nuts if you pick LeBron. Taking Duncan or Wade, though, is bordering on loony. I'm taking what I believe to be the safe route here. If you use LeBron today and the Cavs get knocked out of the playoffs by the Wizards, it wouldn't have mattered if you had picked LeBron today or in the final game of their series. I know it's tempting to take the best player out there. I'm just not convinced it's the best strategy.

I'm a paranoid type of fellow, so I'm thinking to myself, "What happens if the Cavs make it to the Conference or NBA Finals?" At that point, those of you using LeBron now could be regretting it (or so I continue to tell myself). Why? Because once the Conference Finals begin, there will be only one game per day. What that means is that your player pool to pick from becomes incredibly diminished. While you're picking Larry Hughes or Damon Jones because you picked LeBron James on Day One, I'm going with LeBron. So it's my LeBron/Bibby versus your LeBron/Hughes. Sure, it's close in one case, but let's say you continue picking players on favored teams early. It could get ugly for you.

Seriously, it could! Yes, you will be ahead of me after Day One. LeBron will put up better numbers than will Mike Bibby. But, slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady. I don't know. Maybe I'm completely wrong. This thing will play out. I just see this as a game of patience, reaction, and strategy. In the end, maybe it's just a crap shoot. Regardless, I will beat you.

I've also created three accounts in order to fill out three brackets in Pick 'n Roll with the hopes that I will actually be close to right with one of them. I found myself entering "6" and "7" quite regularly for number of games per series. The exceptions will likely be the Pistons/Bucks and Miami/Chicago -- although Scottie Pippen picked the Bulls to upset the Heat in that series, so what do I know? I'm sure there was no bias backing that prediction.

Who do I expect to advance in my "expert" opinion? I'm looking at San Antonio, Dallas, the Clippers, and Phoenix out of the West; the Pistons, Cavs, Nets, and Heat out of the East. Then again, my four-year-old picked the Memphis Grizzlies to sweep the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals. The kid is a genius, so he is making me double-think my pick of Phoenix over Miami.

To be honest, nothing will surprise me. Charles Barkley was right when he called this one of the most evenly matched NBA Playoffs in recent history. The West, in particular, could go to just about anyone. Memphis and Sacramento aren't getting much love, but the Grizzlies are very strong defensively, and the Kings have been a completely different team (in a good way) since picking up Ron Artest.

That was painless enough. No song lyrics. No misspellings (I think). Until next time...