It's not too late. Play Drive to the Finals Now!

By Rob Peterson

Previous Expert Picks

May 7 - Welcome to the Conference Semifinals.

Are you ready? We are.

With two games -- Mavs at Spurs and Cavs at Pistons -- on Sunday's docket, we don't have too much to chose from today.

Allow me to explain. We've used a lot of our big guns already. Check out some of the names:

Today's Expert Pick
Player: Josh Howard, Dallas
Opponent: Phoenix
Regular Season Averages
May 5 -- Now What?
May 3 -- He Did What?
May 1 -- Just Getting Interesting
April 29 -- Adjusting On the Fly
April 25 -- No Doubt
April 24 -- Break Out the Abacus
April 23 -- Let's Roll
April 22 -- The Clock Ticks

And while No. 8 and Mr. Arenas will no longer join us for this postseason, the first four play on.

All of which makes me hesitant to pick a superstar on Sunday. We're gonna keep it in the holster for today.

That being said, I'm going with the Mavericks' Josh Howard. While I truly think Mr. Howard can put up significant digits in Game 1 of the Conference Semis, I did come to my pick through the process of elimination.

Let's see if we can make sense of my twisted logic.

You don't want to pick a Piston or a Spur. Both teams are prohibitive favorites to move on, possibly all the way to The Finals. The smart, safe play is to keep these dudes on the shelf for a later date. No need to waste one of those superstars in Game 1 of the Conference Semis.

OK, let's check out the Cavs. We've use LeBron already, so that's a moot point. The Cavs, who played an OT game on Friday, get the Pistons, who have been chillin' for five days. Plus, they're the most intense defensive team in the postseason. Do you have confidence in anyone other than LeBron to put up spectacular numbers?

That, you can answer for yourself.

With those three teams off the board, that leaves us with the Mavs.

No Joshin', we're picking Howard.
Tim Heitman/NBAE/Getty Images
Keep Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry on the shelf. You want to see how the Mavs play the Spurs in San Antonio. I originally thought, "Hmm, maybe Jerry Stackhouse can get some good numbers for me. Bonzi Wells killed the Spurs in the First Round. Stack's a similar player. Maybe "

And then I looked at his numbers against the Spurs this season:

Stack played two games (of the four Dallas had) against the Spurs and averaged 11.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. That adds up to about an 18 (rounding up) PRA.

I'm not exactly feeling confident with that.

Now, let's look at Howard's numbers against the Spurs in three games: 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.3 apg. That's close to a 28 PRA.

I don't know if you can do much better than that in a Game 1 on the road.

Howard it is.