Remember way back in August when we put together a 3-on-3 team to compete against the rest of the league? The folks at SBNation have been running a fancy tournament to see which team would walk away as the champion. But it isn't just one person looking at the rosters and guessing who would be best. Here's part of the complex (but fair sounding) process they've come up with.
A panel of experts from around SB Nation will be asked to predict how many times each team would win out of 20 meetings between the two teams. Five experts will be assigned to each matchup. Each team's total number of victories will be calculated from the predictions, yielding a percentage likelihood that the team would win a single meeting.
Then, essentially like Dungeons and Dragons nerds, they roll dice and see who wins. So there's a big element of chance involved (just like in real life).
So, skipping forward a bit, the Celtics have beaten Brooklyn and Atlanta and now face a hodge-poge collection of players that were collected from the leftover players not selected on other Eastern teams (yes, this is really complex). That team features Brandon Jennings, Gerald Wallace and Roy Hibbert.
So, even with all that lead in, I feel like I've probably left a lot of details on the cutting room floor. So feel free to research the whole tourney here on the SBNation StoryStream for this (get used to that term, we'll be using stuff like that soon).
Here's what I wrote in order to sell our 3-on-3 team last month.
Rondo holds the ball at the top of the key, surveying the scene with his "I'm playing chess while these jokers are playing checkers" look. Pierce is stationed at the 3 point line just beyond the 45 degree spot, where he loves to catch and either shoot or start his slow-motion-but-you-have-to-foul-me-to-stop-me dribble drive routine. Garnett is at the elbow ready to set a pick or flash out to his sweet spot just inside the 3 point line. If Rondo's man is giving him a couple of feet he starts his drive right down the gut of the defense where he can break any defender down one-on-one. If anyone comes over to help, nobody is better at spotting the open man and hitting him with the ball than Rondo. If Rondo's man plays up tight, Garnett sets a pick and rolls either to his sweet spot or to the basket for a lob over the top - depending on what his man does. This is particularly deadly since there's no weak side defending big man, and if Pierce's man comes to help that leaves him open. Did I mention yet that Pierce won the 3 point shooting contest a couple years ago?
I think that conveys my feelings well on the team in general. But how about this particular matchup?
Jennings vs. Rondo is an interesting matchup in that Jennings is very quick and puts a lot of pressure on opposing points from an offensive perspective. Still, Rondo is by far the better player and his job isn't to win a one-on-one matchup so much as it is to help his team win - something he does exceedingly well.
Wallace is just the kind of defender that gives Paul Pierce a headache but again, Pierce is no slouch on defense either and by far the better offensive threat.
Garnett vs. Hibbert is an interesting matchup as well. Perhaps the biggest (literally) challenge for KG outside of Dwight Howard himself. Here again though, KG is the superior talent on both ends of the court and is likely to find space for his jumper before Hibbert can come out to challenge the shot.
By the way, one aspect that I had forgotten to mention before now is this. It is tempting to say that Rondo's lack of long range shooting puts him at a disadvantage in a situation like this. I say hogwash. If anything, this situation is ideal for Rondo. With just 6 players on the court, it would be impossible to "pack the lane" by dropping back off Rondo. If he can knife his way through 9 other bodies, imagine the running lanes he'll find with all that open space! He'll be like Barry Sanders in a 5 on 5 flag football game.
Besides, this is a quirky, different style of playing basketball that would take any team some getting used to. Rondo, however, is one of the smartest, 3-steps-ahead thinkers in the game. He'll figure out the loopholes and strategies faster than anyone else and then he'll make sure his teammates take advantage at every step.
Again, Pierce and Garnett don't have to get tired out by running up and down the court. They can conserve all their energy into defending at the highest level and knocking down shots. Pierce has an endless array of tricks to get into the lane or to the line and Garnett can take you inside or step out to straddling the 3 point line and still be in his money zone.
The East Leftovers team is a formidable foe, but the Celtics are just flat out better.