Well, its been a week since the championship concluded. As you can probably surmise from my delay in posting, we didnt emerge victorious. 😥 A hard fought two and a half weeks with some unexpected moments. Ill try and hold back my tears as I type…
Since the last update, I was down in FT%/3PM/AST/STL/PTS and had planned to focus on trying to win AST/STL as that last elusive category to get to 5-4. I remember picking up both Schroder, Larkin, and even Iguodala and praying for Lowry’s return to help my achieve that end, but it didnt end up working out that way. Schroder sat a few games, Larkin was woefully ineffective, and Lowry returned too late and was clearly rusty when he did play. Wall sitting out a few games and WAS’s late announcement that he would play fully in his return (I had stashed him on the DL that day) meant I missed on another game from him (which he went 24/4/9/2/1 … >_>). On my opponent’s side, the lead he built up in those two categories ballooned. Supported by his pickup of Ray McCollum, Turner/Isaiah/WESTBROOK pumped in the ASTs. His most surprising contributor however might have been Blake Griffin. As his game has moved away from the basket, Blake’s AST #’s have risen. This came at the cost of his REB totals (and for this league’s purposes, DD’s), but for this matchup, his statistical shift benefited my opponent. The pillars of my STL dominance, Wall/Lowry/Draymond/Noel simply missed too many games between them to make a run at the cat. Harden and MCW had great STL #s, and Budinger had moments as well, but it wasnt enough to catch up as a lot of the pickups I made werent contributors in STL.
As the week progressed, I found myself falling further and further behind in 3PM/AST/STL/PTS, but to my surprise, FT%, a cat I assumed he would win handily, was actually within reach. We were only separated by a few made FTs and with FT god James Harden on my team, I thought it would be a good idea to try and win that cat. This was the point of the matchup I agonized the most over. I had already committed some of my precious acquisitions to trying to comeback in AST and STL, but to switch gears now might leave me in a middle ground where I dont make up enough %age points in FT to take the category and fall short in the rest of the categories.
Percentage categories are hard to come back in, particularly FT% since it’s hard to predict who will get FT attempts. Big positives in FT% arent easy to find on the waiver wire, but one possibility you can manipulate the cat is to bench your poor FT shooters. For my team, the two biggest offenders were Noel and Gobert, and to an extent, Draymond. By this time I had dropped Noel due to his injury, but still had Gobert on the roster. So I tried to make my comeback in FT%, sitting Gobert and picking up James Ennis, who had found a role on a MIA team fighting to make the playoffs and seemed to have the ability to draw a few FT/game and hit them. Comically, Ennis would shoot 2/3 in the one game I played him in and the night I sat Gobert (he played later in the night so I tried to gauge if it was worth it to sit him based on how the rest of my team did at the FT line), he didnt even attempt a FT while the rest of my team shot 23/30 to my opponents 17/18. With this setback and my opponent’s team’s FT shooting prowess, I quickly decided to abandon my plan to fight for FT%. Later on, Steven Adams and Dion Waiters would tank his FT% a bit to give me more hope, but by I had already given up on the cat and had acquired players that were relatively poor FT shooters, but helped in other areas.
Facing big deficits in 3PM (partially due to my dropping of Covington and my opponent picking him up and Covington promptly pouring in 3PM and PTS as PHL turned to him for offense, but mostly due to my opponent having the better/more 3PM contributors)/FT%/AST/STL, I turned to the last possible cat, PTS. I actually hit on a lot of my pickups from this point on. Miles, Hood, and Casspi helped me comeback in PTS and even take the lead for brief moments at the end….until the final night of the season.
Throughout the matchup, I had tried to save at least one acquisition for the dice roll that the final day of the season. Teams with nothing to play for sitting/not fully playing key players muddle the picture for that last day, but I tried my best to avoid major pitfalls. I anticipated Draymond would sit (which he didnt…but played reduced minutes) and that Wall/Beal would play reduced minutes (they ended up sitting after playing 40+ min in a double OT game the night before). Dragic was a bit of a wild card as I knew he had been playing through injuries while MIA tried to make the playoffs, but pending the results of the games of the NBA regular season’s penultimate night, MIA could be eliminated and he would probably rest. Still I had a full lineup lined up for that Wednesday. So I gambled a bit and used my last acquisition to pick up Gerald Green to try and sneak in a GP on Tuesday when I had 4 players playing to my opponent’s 7. The move actually helped and I found myself only down 9 (!!!) PTS going into the final night. With such a slim difference, every GP was critical. Sadly, I was blindsided by Tobias sitting out due to an Achilles injury and Omri sitting due to a stomach illness and without any roster moves left, had to roll with 8/10 players on the final night. Turner/Kyrie/Gortat played reduced minutes and LouWill didnt even check into the final game for my opponent, but Westbrook and Waiters (who had arguably his best game of the season) destroyed the spineless Timberwolves in a battle for their playoff lives, combining for 70PTS. Lowry, Miles, and Schroder put up a valiant fight, but in the end, we came up just 36 pts short. 😥 RIP
Looking at the final box score, FG%, REB, BLK, and DD were easy wins for my squad. Pretty much anchored by Rudy Gobert, my opponent didnt have anyone with close to the frontcourt impact that Gobert had. Paired with Noel, even if it was only for 5/8 games, helped me win 4/9 cats.
The thing that makes the results of this matchup so hard to stomach is that out of the remaining five categories, I just had to win one and I would have come away the champion. Worse yet, out of those five categories, TWO (!!!), AST and STL, were ones that my team had DOMINATED the rest of the league in all year. Not to mention, the two categories I expected to lose heading into the matchup, FT% and 3PM, were actually within reach at points during the matchup.
Looking back, I definitely wasted too many acquisitions either trying to be cute (e.g. – the Sullinger/Ennis pickups) or getting too impatient (e.g. – Covington, CJ McCollum). Those extra roster moves would have come in clutch for that last day when more players sat than I anticipated. My ill-fated attempt at the FT% cat cost me a roster move or two, but the real issue was that it made me hesitant to pickup relatively poor FT shooters like Casspi, whose overall production outweighs their poor FT%. Also, I would have been better served to pay more care to scheduling. While my players might have been scheduled for more games over the matchup, there was too much overlap on high volume days (M/W/F) so I had too many players playing some nights. While injuries meant I didnt have to sit too many players on those high-volume days, it was still a bit wasteful. This was most apparent in this last week where my opponent had a 4 GP advantage over the last T/Th (partially due BOS playing those nightsand him having Isaiah/Turner/Olynyk – players I probably would never have on my team). This loss was a hard lesson in rosterbate less, pull the trigger on players earlier, and plan around the schedule better.
Hats off to “Fuck Jon Lee” for an incredibly close round. I’d love to blame injury/rest or bad luck, but thats loser talk and a discredit to the job my opponent did to earn his win. He really addressed the weaknesses his team had shown vs mine in our previous matchups. With acquiring Irving and clutch pick ups like McCollum, LouWill, and ~shudder~ Waiters, his victory was well-deserved. GGWP