The 2013-14 NBA playoffs are here (!!LedDfFUCKYESkrW!!), and so is the “Spring Classic” AKA the “Big Shot Bob (Rob)” playoff tournament. Despite a lackluster year in terms of AGR’s blog content, the BSB(R) is happening in a big way with an all-time high 24 contestants. I’m pretty sure that’s a bigger number than our entire readership, which is all sorts of confusing given that AGR produced two posts this season. Chalk it up to saving our energies for the playoffs in proper Popovich style.
Last year, Dan Leifer won in an improbable repeat-win, making his BSB(R) track-record terrifyingly Heat-like. I’ll said it then and I’ll say it again now, it’s unlikely he’ll win given the sheer number of participants and heavy dose of luck involved in the “Spring Classic.” But as they used to say during lunch basketball, doubt “Big Purple” at your own peril.
Before unveiling everybody’s picks, let’s go over some of the prominent narratives in each first round series…
In the East…
- Pacers-Hawks: Can the Pacers regroup in time for the playoffs? Without Al Horford, can the Hawks remain competitive and use their stretch bigs to take Hibbert out of his comfort zone? Which Paul George will we see–the MVP-caliber player from the season’s first half or his mediocre shooting self of late?
- Bulls-Wizards: How will John Wall and Bradley Beal play in their first postseason against an unforgiving Chicago D? Who will win the battle of the bigs, Noah/Boozer/Gibson or Gortat/Nene?
- Raptors-Nets: Can the Raptors hang with the invigorated playoff-tested vets of Brooklyn? How will they counter the Nets when they play Pierce at the four?
- Heat-Bobcats: When will the Heat turn on the proverbial “switch”? Will there be any LeBron-MJ stare-downs in Charlotte? Will Josh McRoberts posterize Birdman in a battle of underrated-white-athletic big men? (Hint, it happened.)
In the West…
- Spurs-Mavericks: Can Dirk will his team to at least a game against the league-best Spurs? Will the Spurs even bother playing their starters when they go up 3-0?
- Rockets-Blazers: Will Damian Lillard overcome Patrick Beverley’s defense? Which big man will prove more valuable–Aldridge or Howard? If these teams go at least six or seven games, can they break the record for three-pointers (makes or attempts) in a series?
- Clippers-Warriors: Will the Dubs get under Blake Griffin’s skin, or will BG show the world why he’s an MVP candidate? With Bogut out, will the Warriors go small to disrupt the Clippers’ size-advantage? Who wins the Curry-CP3 matchup?
- Thunder-Grizzlies: Will Durant exact revenge on the Grizzlies for last year’s sweep? Or will James Johnson get major minutes and emerge as a makeshift KD stopper?
The first round has started and some of the answers to these questions have started to emerge, but we’ll have to wait on answering them fully until future rounds. Let’s get back to the “Spring Classic,” for the moment. The rules are simple:
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 some NBA eBay swag and the chance to write a guest post on AGR, even if it’s about debating who is swaggier between Nick Young and J.R. Smith.
Here are the picks. (Notice, these are three separate images…it was the only way to fit them all in. All three images are clickable to enlarge.)
WOW SO MANY COLORS NUMBERS AND LETTERS SHWAS CONFUSING. There is some interesting data, though, as there is every year. Let’s break down the worthwhile tidbits from the 24 different sets of picks:
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, the picks for WCF champ were overwhelmingly for the Thunder (12 picks) and the Spurs (8); likewise, the Heat were most-picked as the East winner (20 picks).
- Surprising, though, was the group’s lack of faith in the Heat against those two teams. Among the 18 Spurs/Thunder vs. Heat match-ups, the West duo went 16-2 against Miami. Odd stuff considering the Heat beat both of them in the last two Finals.
- The Clippers were incredible this year, but haven’t earned the trust of the group–they made it out of the West for only two participants, never winning it all. In that sense, they are like last year’s Spurs, who none of us predicted to make/win the Finals. Watch out for Lob City to break our collective bracket.
- In terms of the most competitive series, the Bulls went 13-11 against the Wiz and the Raptors went 15-9 against the Nets–every other series was picked heavily in the direction of the favorite (next closest was Rockets-Blazers, which was 18-6 in Houston’s favor). Although the first round is more predictable in some ways, the lack of parity is still surprising, especially when you account for the fact that the groups’ relative faith in the Wiz is due to the Washingtonian crowd. Why didn’t red-hot Nets–favorites at ESPN.com and in Vegas–or the well-rounded Blazers fare better?
That’s all I got for now. After Round 1, I’ll post an update and the typical series recaps. 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.