April PickWatch

I'll try to keep this updated as we watch the games of the final two weeks of the season.  

BOS and SAS beat the top two teams in the league, and OKC beat one of the worst (us), to keep pressure on catching UTA and improving that pick.

Unfortunately, the three teams directly trailing CHA all lost today, helping them maintain their gap.

MIN remains locked in the #2 slot, and mercifully has just 5 games remaining until the end of the season..

Picks as of the games of April 4:

MINNESOTA PICK (currently #2 slot in the lottery)

CHARLOTTE PICK  (currently #16) 

UTAH PICK (currently #24-27)  now a 4-way tie

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MINNESOTA PICK (currently #2 slot in the lottery)

Our position is perhaps the easiest to predict, with large gaps on both sides of us.  The current April 1st standings are as follows:

1. 11-66 NJN
2. 15-62 MIN .. 4 games back
3. 23-53 GSW/WAS/DET .. 12.5 games back

With seven games remaining, we seem destined for the #2 position.  Our lottery odds stand at

1st pick 19.9%
2nd pick 18.8%
3rd pick 17.1%
4th pick 31.9%
5th pick 12.3%

 The expected value of the pick is roughly the third pick, but I desperately hope for the top 2.

 

CHARLOTTE PICK  (currently #16)

This remains a highly interesting pick.  Here's the standings:

18. MIA (43-34)
17. MIL (42-34)

16. CHA (40-36)

15. TOR (38-38) (L)
14. MEM (39-37) (L)
13. HOU (38-38) (L)
12. CHI (37-39)

As you know, the Bobcats pick is Top 12 protected this season.  For the pick to not be conveyed, the Bobcats would have to fall out of the play-offs, and MEM and HOU would also have to pass them.  With Chicago four games back with eight remaining, it appears impossible, but if the Bobcats slump, that's exactly what still has a chance of happening.

First, I should note that Toronto beat Charlotte Monday night to win the season tie-breaker.  If both teams tie for 8th, the Raptors go to the play-offs.  However, the key is for the Bulls to catch the Bobcats as well, and this means we need to take a look at Charlotte's remaining schedule.

April 2, CHA vs MIL : WIN (OT)
April 3, CHA @ CHI : LOSS
April 6, CHA vs ATL
April 7, CHA @ NOH
April 9, CHA @ HOU
April 10, CHA vs DET
April 12, CHA @ NJN
April 14, CHA vs CHI

The Bobcats are trying to cram 8 games into a 13-night span.  While their competition isn't strong, we can hope fatigue or tweaks could slow them down.  Note that they have three back-to-backs, and a stretch where they play four games in five days (leading off vs the Hawks).

The important Bulls game this Saturday will be on the road, a back-to-back, so we can keep our fingers crossed on that one.  If the Bulls won both, they'd also pick up the tie-breaker, so in effect, it could add 2.5 to the 4 games they need to catch up.  Hinrich may be back next game, and Deng is about ready to return as well.

 

UTAH PICK (currently #24-27)

The Utah pick is Top 15 protected, so we'll be getting it this summer.  However, I think its amazing that with only six games remaining, that pick can still vary between 19-29.

30. CLE 60-17 (L)
29. LAL 55-22 (L)
28. ORL 54-23 (W)

24-27. UTA 50-27
24-27. DAL 50-27
24-27. PHO 50-27
24-27. DEN 50-27

23. ATL 49-27 ... 0.5 games back
22. BOS 48-28 (W) ... 1.5 games back
21. OKC 48-28 (W) ... 1.5 games back
20. SAS 47-29 (W) ... 2.5 games back
19. POR 47-30 ... 3.0 games back

We could certainly use a rough patch for the Jazz, and fortunately,  they play some decent teams anxious to improve their play-off seeding.

April 2, UTAH @ LAL : LOSS
April 6, UTAH vs OKC
April 7, UTAH @ HOU
April 9, UTAH @ NOH
April 13 UTAH @ GSW
April 14 UTA vs PHO

Except for the GSW game, that's not an easy schedule. HOU and NOH are the only non-play-off teams, and they are still decent ballclubs.  Also, those two will both be on the road, and when the Jazz are tired.  HOU is the tail end of a back-to-back, and NOH is the third game in four days. Is it too much to hope that Utah finishes the season 1-5?  Even the Spurs at #19 are only four games back.

 

These last two weeks will be important in determining the value of our picks.  We have to wait until the lottery on May 18th to determine the Wolves pick, but it could still be fun to watch several other NBA teams in the beginning of April.

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