Win a Sony PSP! Play Drive to the Finals Now!

By Jon Loomer

Previous Expert Picks

June 6 - And down the stretch they come!

This is it. The moment of truth. The whole schamoley. The NBA Finals. We've been building for this for weeks in the Drive to the Finals playoff fantasy game. We've picked, we've erred, we've learned. But the Experts have always planned and prepared.

Today's Expert Pick
Player: Udonis Haslem, Miami
Opponent: Dallas Mavericks
Regular Season Averages
June 6 -- Experts Win!
June 1 -- Hold on Tight
May 30 -- No Expert Witness
May 26 -- On Second Thought...
May 24 -- Hands off the Keys
On the surface, it would appear that strategy is now out the window. In the past, we were picking players off of underdog teams, saving players from teams that were advancing. With this being the end of the line, no more reason to save players. Use what we have. Strategy out the window.


Well, not really. If that were the case, I'd have no article to write.

We're at a point now where we have a nice group of Miami Heat players, but a short series would be to our benefit. WIth three players averaging PRA's over 15.0, two more over 12.0, and everyone else under that, we'll be scrambling if this goes seven games.

Which means, of course, that it will go seven games. Murphy's Law. However, We still need to maximize what we have.

In the past, I've preached picking players at the right time -- namely, picking top players when they are at home. I wanted to provide some support for this, so I did a little research.
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How have the top Heat players done lately at home and on the road? Do we have anything to work with here? Is it more than a crap shoot? Throw me a freaking bone here, people!

Following are the stats for the top five Heat players remaining (we've used Walker) over their past 10 games -- five at home and five on the road:

Home Away
Player Pts Reb Ast PRA Pts Reb Ast PRA
Dwyane Wade 26.2 5.7 5.7 37.5 27.3 5.0 6.3 38.7
Shaquille O'Neal 22.3 9.3 0.7 32.3 19.8 10.5 1.8 32.2
Udonis Haslem 10.5 7.5 1.7 19.7 9.7 8.5 0.7 18.8
Jason Williams 11.0 1.5 3.7 16.2 5.5 2.7 3.2 11.3
James Posey 4.3 5.3 0.7 10.3 8.2 5.5 1.3 15.0

Uh... whoops. Wade has played a little better on the road, Shaq has put up nearly identical numbers, Haslem and Williams a little better at home, and Posey significantly better on the road.

Well, those are the averages. I also want consistency. Wade's low is 28 and high is 47 at home; 30 and 47 on the road. Shaq's low is 20 and high is 45 at home; 23 and 55 on the road. Haslem has been consistent at home, posting between 16 and 25; between 6 and 32 on the road. Williams will give you anything between two and 28 at home; four and 17 on the road. Finally, Posey has provided between six and 14 at home, nine and 25 on the road.

Models of consistency, right? Not really. The amazing thing is that the combined statistics for all five players provides the exact same final PRA, whether at home or on the road.


Did I mention that the first two games will be played in Dallas? Ok, we need a pick here. Whether we pick Wade or Shaq at home or on the road doesn't seem to matter all that much according to these numbers. Williams and Posey have been incredibly erratic, with Posey putting up the better recent numbers on the road. Haslem's been far more consistent at home, but his biggest numbers have been on the road.


Ok, I'm going gut here. Forget what I said earlier. Strategy out the window. I want to save Shaq and Wade for home games. My gut tell's me I should. I listen to my gut. For the first two games, I am most comfortable with Udonis Haslem and James Posey.

And the decision? No science. No real reason. It is what it is: Udonis Haslem.