The NBA playoffs are upon us, which means it’s time for the AGR institution “Big Shot Bob (Rob)” playoff tournament. I’m proud to say it is our fourth year running this tournament, and I’m scared to say that two of the previous three winners are once again participating in this year’s contest. Last year’s winner was Dan Leifer in a close finish, but this year it’s unlikely he’ll win given that we have a record-high twenty participants.
Before unveiling everybody’s picks, let’s go over some of the prominent storylines for each first round series…
In the East…
- Heat-Bucks: Will the Heat show the same focus and intensity that led to their 27-game win streak, or will Brandon Jennings and company steal a game or four from the defending champs?
- Nets-Bulls: Are Joakim Noah and the Bulls healthy and motivated enough to take down a Nets team led by a rejuvenated Deron Williams?
- Pacers-Hawks: Can a slumping Pacers team regroup for the playoffs behind first time All-Star Paul George? Can the Hawks make enough noise to keep Josh Smith, or better yet, woo Dwight Howard?
- Knicks-Celtics: Will the Knicks handle the Rondo-less Celtics the way a two-seed should? Or might the always-dangerous Celtics surprise us with an upset?
In the West…
- Thunder-Rockets: Which James Harden will show up–the Harden who torched the Thunder on 14-19 shooting en route to 42 points early in the season or the Harden that struggled in the season’s latter two matchups? Can the Thunder defense make a statement against a potent Rockets attack?
- Clippers-Grizzlies: In a rematch of last year’s epic seven-game series, will Rudy Gay’s departure help or hurt the team when games get gritty? Can the Clippers second unit can be as devastating on defense as they were in the regular season?
- Nuggets-Warriors: Between two teams who like to play fast, which style of relentlessness–the Nuggets’ rim-attack or the Warriors’ three-point barrage–will win out? How will injuries to David Lee and Danilo Gallinari affect each team?
- Spurs-Lakers: A classic rivalry without a classic participant (a certain Kobe Bean Bryant). Will the Lakers build on their late-season momentum and upset a hurting Spurs team a la the 2010-11 Grizzlies? Or will the Spurs regain their early season form and dominate like the top-three team that they are?
There are many other questions to ponder, and we’ll revisit them in future posts as the postseason rolls forward. For now let’s return to the Big Shot Bob tournament. The rules are simple:
All participants make their predictions through the finals before the start of the first playoff games. Predicting the series winner is worth 5 points. Predicting the correct number of games in the series is worth 2 points (only if the series winner is correct).
The winner will win a prize and gets to either write a guest post on AGR or choose a future topic for a blogpost, even if it’s about Popeye Jones’s ear-evolution or a chronicle of Nick Young’s assists.
And finally, the picks!
There are a lot of participants and a lot of information to take in, so allow me to go over some of the highlights:
- The Heat are overwhelming favorites to win the title among our group. 13 people picked the Heat, 3 picked the Thunders, 2 picked the Knicks, 1 picked the Rockets, and 1 picked the Bulls. The Knicks and Rockets picks, by admission of the contestants, were more hopeful than predictive. I have yet to generate a plausible explanation for the Bulls pick.
- As you can gather above, the Spurs are not picked by any to be an NBA champion. In fact, nobody even picked them to make the the finals. Meanwhile, the Rockets and Knicks make the finals in two brackets. Strange world we live in.
- A whopping 16 out of 20 predicted the Heat to sweep the Bucks, and the other four people saw them winning in five games. Not much faith in the Bucks for this crowd. In contrast, not a single person predicted the Thunder to sweep the Rockets.
- What about upsets? Despite not having home-court and a hurting Noah, 15 out of 20 predicted the Bulls to beat the Nets. The 4-5 series in the West was more evenly split (12 for the Clippers, 8 for the Grizzlies).
- On a similar note, a surprising number of people picked the Warriors to upset the injury-plagued Nuggets (7 out of 20). Given that the Nuggets won without Faried and that David Lee is now injured, things look bleek for the Warriors.
And that’s where we stand. Tune back in after Round 1 for a Big Shot Bob (Rob) Playoff Tournament update. Good luck to all participants, players and teams!
Who are your picks to win, both the playoffs and the AGR tourney? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.