Grading My 2018 Preseason Picks: Eastern Conference

Looking back on the preseason previews, I covered the Western Conference and went 8-4 on my picks where I set a specific “over or under” bet in the article. Sure, I got two other picks wrong without saying a number, and the 15th case was simply saying the Warriors were good without providing context, so I gave myself an 8-6-1 record.

Did I do as well in the East? Besides being one of the legion of people who didn’t see the Pacers coming, I mean (more on that later.) In order of publication:

Over/Under: 43
Pick: “But a team that is a genuine 40-45 win team as constructed probably deserves the benefit of the doubt with one of the best coaches in the sport.”
Actual: 44-38

Without naming a number outright, I called them a 40-45 win team and implied high end of that range. Nailed it.

0-0 O/U, 1-0 overall.

Over/Under: 49.5
Pick: “If everyone stays healthy, this is a genuine 55-60 win team. If. But are they any good? You’re damn right they are. This one is emphatically Confirmed. Don’t sleep on Washington as a dark-horse Finals candidate in the East.”
Actual: 42-40, limped into the playoffs.

I stuck my neck out and got it chopped off. I seemed to see the John Wall injury coming but wildly overrated guys like Bradley Beal and Otto Porter in the process. I was way off on this one.

0-1 O/U, 1-1 overall.

Over/Under: 26
Pick: “If this team wins 15 games, that won’t even surprise anyone.”
Actual: They weren’t THAT bad, going 24-58, but they were dead last in the East and third-worst in the league.

I said they were terrible. They were terrible. Pay the winner.

1-1 O/U, 2-1 overall.

Over/Under: 43.5
Pick: “I personally can’t see any better than the 36-46 they put up last year.”
Actual: 36-46

That’s “Bob Barker gives you a hundred dollars” accurate. Nailed it.

2-1 O/U, 3-1 overall.

Over/Under: 33
Pick: “In a world of no hope, they don’t inspire fears.” “Orlando looks more like a 25-win team than a 45-win team. This one is way, way Busted.”
Actual: 25-57

I called them a 25-win team. They won 25 games. Hey, look at me on a roll!

3-1 O/U, 4-1 overall.

Over/Under: 22.5
Pick: “They’ve got mediocre starters in a division that is Cavs-And-Not-Much, but the team projects at 22 wins for a reason. There is no reason why Chicago should even try to win this year.”
Actual: 27-55 and the worst point differential in the East.

I didn’t say whether they’d win more or less than 22, I did say they should’ve tanked harder, and they ended up as a classic bad team. I got the spirit right but didn’t commit to a number. Calling this a draw. Right in spirit, off on the details.

3-1 O/U, 4-1-1 overall.

Over/Under: 38.5
Pick: “I’m calling them Busted and projecting them at 34-48.”
Actual: 39-43.

Damn. They won one game too many to make me technically correct.

3-2 O/U, 4-2-1 overall.

Over/Under: 47
Pick: “I simply can’t bust out the “Confirmed” plate. The seed of doubt that comes from their tendency to turn into a MASH unit and go on a losing streak is just too strong to project these guys as any better than right where Vegas has them…mid to upper 40s in terms of win total.

Which is good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a little too easy to see an injury-riddled season hitting them so hard that they go 35-47 and miss the playoffs because they didn’t have all hands on deck.”
Actual: 43-39

Once again I didn’t commit to a number, but I did get them in the right ballpark. I had the right idea. I’m going to give myself this one.

3-2 O/U, 5-2-1 overall.

Over/Under: 31
Pick: “The Pacers are exactly what they look like on the surface. A 30-win team with an emerging young superstar and a core that’s not good enough to elevate him even in the East. Too good to tank, too bad to make the playoffs, there is no plausible scenario in which this team ventures outside exactly the box that their terrible management has put them in.”
Actual: 48-34 and a wild ride to the 5 seed in the East.

Everyone got it wrong on the Pacers. But I got it double and triple wrong, saying Domantas Sabonis was terrible (he’s an emerging star), the team would be dull to watch (they were tremendous fun), and that they’d suck (they didn’t.)

Wrong, wrong, wrong. And I’m so glad for that.

3-3 O/U, 5-3-1 overall.

Over/Under: 54
Pick: “I do not see how a team that added nothing of true value is supposed to be three wins better than the team that was mainly composed of guys who’d just won the title.”
Actual: 50-32

I did say that I was high on LeBron’s supporting cast, but I also seemed to think that their crack at a fourth straight Finals appearance hinged on the East being weak.

And I got the record right.

4-3 O/U, 6-3-1 overall.

Over/Under: 27
Pick: “These guys legitimately look a little feisty out there, and they should clear their 27-win expectation with ease.”
Actual: 28-54. Technically correct! The best kind of correct!

But seriously, I got the over/under pick right and the quality of the team wrong as wrong can be. So that’s a win on the O/U and a loss on the pick quality.

5-3 O/U, 6-4-1 overall.

Over/Under: 29.5
Pick: “Are the Knicks any good? Please. Get that weak sauce outta here. Busted, busted, BUSTED.”
Actual: 29-53

I didn’t call an actual number, so I can’t claim the win on the over/under, but they did fall short of the over/under, so if you bet based on my recommendation, you’d have won by half a game. That’s a win.

5-3 O/U, 7-4-1 overall.

Over/Under: 39.5
Pick: “There are town guards in Skyrim who have healthier bodies than a tall guy who has foot problems before his first game in the league.” – on Ben Simmons. Whoops. Oh, and “I personally think they’ll go 28-54 again.”
Actual: 52-30 and a 16-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.

Let’s…just move on, shall we?

5-4 O/U, 7-5-1 overall.

Over/Under: 48
Pick: “50-32 looks about right for these guys. Confirmed.”
Actual: 59-23 and a favorite to make the Finals.

Another “right on the over/under, miles off on the actual prediction” win and loss.

6-4 O/U, 7-6-1 overall.

Over/Under: 54
Pick: “But I can’t help but agree with the Twitterverse. This is not a Finals team. Not even close. In fact, I see them as a three seed, crashing out against the Wizards in Round 2 and watching IT, Jae, and the Cavs do battle with Golden State for the fourth straight time.”
Actual: 55-27, the 2 seed, and seen as unlikely to make it past the second round (although it won’t be the Wizards but rather the Sixers who are likely to deliver the killing blow.)

And yes, I got a little lucky because it’s actually injuries that wiped out the Celtics’ ability to contend, but I got the prediction close enough to call it for the good.

6-4 O/U, 8-6-1 overall.

14-8 Over/Under
16-12-2 Picking Team Quality

Considering that, I’d say I actually know what I’m talking about! So when I say something about the 2018-19 season, it would behoove you to listen to me.