Drive to the Finals Expert Pick: 5/3/07
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By Jeff Dengate

First, let me say: Thank you Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago Ö and Golden State. Youíve made my job easier and, well, not so easy.

As a result of the three Central Division teams sweeping their first-round matchups, we now have limited options for our Drive to the Finals picks for the remainder of the first round.

Likewise, Golden State going minus-15 during the final few minutes last night means I have to strongly consider usingóor not usingóany leftover Mavericks players.

Two days ago, I was all geared up to select Deron Williams. After all, I was looking at the Jazz trailing the Rockets 3-2 and thinking thereís no way Utah wins two straight, including a Game 7 on the road. Well, that and the Rockets-Jazz game might have been the nightís only tilt.

Now I have the added luxury/headache of throwing into the mix Josh Howard, who we would have wasted had the Mavs not won Game 5 on Tuesday night.

But, what if the Mavs storm back to win the series? All of a sudden, itís not looking like such a long shot, is it? Then weíd be left without the top two Mavs, in terms of PRA, for as long as they remain alive in these Playoffs.

I probably donít need to tell you thatís less than an ideal situation and weíd fall mightily in the standings.

So, what to do tonight? Well, Iím saying to just go with J-Ho.

Itís a gamble, but, then again, you know the old mantra: no risk, no reward.

The thinking here is that Utah will right the ship to take Game 6 in their own gym. If so, that gives them a Game 7 in Houston on Saturday. Teams donít frequently win a Game 7 on the road; In NBA history, only the 2005 Indiana Pacers captured a first-round Game 7 victory on the road when they topped the Celtics in Boston. So, Iíll feel comfortable selecting Deron Williams then.

NBA teams also donít often overcome a 3-1 deficit in a seven-game series and, after watching Dallas lose Games 3 and 4 in Golden State, they might not be playing come Saturday.

So, Iím saying take Howardís 35.2 PRA now. Get what you can and move on.

Play Drive to the Finals Now!

Josh Howard, DAL

When: Thursday, May 3 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Opponent: vs. Golden State
Pts: 21.6 Reb: 10.6 Ast: 3.0
Average PRA: 35.2

Yesterday's Pick: Allen Iverson, DEN (29 PRA)
Expert Pick Playoffs Total: 500
Expert Pick Archive
1. Deron Williams, UTA vs. HOU (28.8 PRA)
2. Jason Terry, DAL vs. GSW (23.8 PRA)
3. Mehmet Okur, UTA vs. HOU (18.4 PRA)
Not ready to write off Dallas just yet? Then consider one of Utah's top performers.

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