Prognostication Corner: Your Headquarters For Misapplied Formulas and 51 Percent Accurate Baseball Picks

Now that Tax Day has come and gone, the only thing left to dread about mid-April may be the ungodly formatting and scheduling of the NBA playoffs. They begin on Saturday, when the first games of four best-of-seven series are to be played.

The most important tournament in professional basketball is often marred in its early rounds by four-game sweeps or similarly short series which lead to first- and second-round games being played during the same time period. We can probably expect this tradition to continue this year, assuming the NBA hasn’t wised up yet — and why would they? — and decided to have a more organized playoff schedule. The probability of multiple rounds being contested at once is particularly high with a stacked Western Conference producing several high-profile first round matchups while a top-heavy Eastern Conference continues to lag behind.

Anyway, it’s pretty late now and I actually have to be up somewhat early to run a couple of errands that I’ve repeatedly put off throughout the week. So I’ll cut to the chase. I’m letting the wacky formula that served me so well in March once again try to carry the day in for the NBA Playoffs. This is a concern for a couple of reasons. First, the college and NBA games are different in many ways. The pro game is longer, involves more shooting and is played at a faster pace than the college game. The games are more likely to turn into track meets in the pros than in the NCAA. Also, the college tournament is a series of “best of ones” played at neutral sites, so it’s easier to just pick a flat-out winner of each game using a formula that doesn’t contain anything involving home-court advantage.

While these items are of some concern, a.) there’s nothing I can really do about it and b.) the formula has effectively projected at least one of the two teams to appear in the NBA Finals in each of the last four years. So, it doesn’t appear to be a complete lost cause.

Anyway, here are the quick and dirty NBA picks, along with my even dirtier (I guess?) guesses of how long each series will take. I sort of have a system when I pick these numbers, but let’s just say it’s in an experimental stage right now.

NBA Playoffs:
Eastern Conference:

#1 Boston Celtics over #8 Atlanta Hawks in four games
#5 Washington Wizards over #4 Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games
#2 Detroit Pistons over #7 Philadelphia 76ers in six games
#3 Toronto Raptors over #6 Orlando Magic in seven games

#1 Boston Celtics over #5 Washington Wizards in five games
#2 Detroit Pistons over #3 Toronto Raptors in five games

#1 Boston Celtics over #2 Detroit Pistons in seven games

Western Conference:
#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #8 Denver Nuggets in six games
#4 Utah Jazz over #5 Houston Rockets in six games
#2 New Orleans Hornets over #7 Dallas Mavericks in six games
#3 Phoenix Suns over #6 San Antonio Spurs in seven games

#4 Utah Jazz over #1 Los Angeles Lakers in six games
#2 New Orleans Hornets over #3 Phoenix Suns in six games

#4 Utah Jazz over #2 New Orleans Hornets in five games

NBA Finals: #1 Boston Celtics over #4 Utah Jazz in seven games

On a personal note, I truly believe that the Celtics are going to collapse in the playoffs. I’ve been doubting them all year and for much of the year they’ve made me look like a fool. But I think the Wizards could give them a run that the wacky formula doesn’t see coming provided Washington gets past Cleveland. Of course, it’ll be to Boston’s advantage that they’ll likely have some time to rest up while the Wizards and Cavs are likely to go at it tooth and nail for the entire series.

The outcomes in the West look about right to me. My only real objection is that I think the Suns will get to the conference finals before bowing out. It’s also pretty obvious that this formula doesn’t take into account home and road splits given the projected Western Conference champion. Still, they’re absolute killers at home, and they’re likely to get at least three games in Salt Lake City during each series. Even with a 17-24 road record — that’s still about 40 percent, or two wins in every five games — the Jazz look to be a tough out.

This probably isn’t the last you’ll hear about the NBA Playoffs on the blog. Even with my documented distaste for the Association, I can’t deny that there are several interesting pairings in this year’s first round.

Now we’ll quickly jump to the National Pastime. And I mean very quickly — we’ll touch on my picks for Saturday’s game, I’ll throw out my Friday record (spoiler alert: I went 7-8 ) and then I’ll update the “standings” and bounce.

SATURDAY PICKS:
Pittsburgh Pirates over Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers over Toronto Blue Jays
San Francisco Giants over St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds over Milwaukee Brewers
Cleveland Indians over Minnesota Twins
Philadelphia Phillies over New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers over Atlanta Braves
Kansas City Royals over Oakland Athletics
New York Yankees over Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox over Texas Rangers
Colorado Rockies over Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox over Tampa Bay Rays
Washington Nationals over Florida Marlins
Seattle Mariners over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
San Diego Padres over Arizona Diamondbacks

Merrill Park Superstar vs. the NL Central Standings:
St. Louis Cardinals (12-5) .706
Milwaukee Brewers (10-6) .625
Chicago Cubs (10-6) .625
Merrill Park Superstar (132-120, 7-8 Friday) .524
Pittsburgh Pirates (7-9) .438
Cincinnati Reds (7-10) .412
Houston Astros (6-11) .353

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