On Day Three of the SB Nation NBA 3 on 3 Tournament, pitting mythical 3-on-3 teams composed of players from current NBA rosters against each other in a hypothetical competition, we will be conducting games between the 5 seeds and the 12 seeds. The 5-12 matchup invariably produces a slew of upsets in the NCAA Tournament -- will we see upsets in this one?
In the East, the Atlanta Hawks are facing the Toronto Raptors. The Hawks' team has two players you'd expect to be there (Al Horford and Josh Smith) and one you might not (rookie John Jenkins). There's certainly a logic to the choice though -- Jenkins is supposed to be the best shooter in this draft class and he's there to stretch the floor for Horford and Smith.
The Raptors' team is comprised of Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross and Andrea Bargnani. The inclusion of rookies Ross and Jenkins continues a trend you'll see throughout this tournament -- bloggers (and their readers, who in many cases helped them pick the teams) are an optimistic and hopeful bunch. There are probably at most three rookies (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Damian Lillard come to mind, and MKG only because there's no competition on his team) who will be anywhere close to top-three status on their respective teams this season, yet there are, by my count, eight rookies in this tournament, and a bunch more young players like the Jazz team we saw yesterday. It speaks to, I believe, something about the inherent optimism of sports fans, especially during the off-season.
This could be an interesting contest, with some pretty nasty mismatches out there. Can Ross handle the size of Smith? Can the rookie Jenkins stay in front of Lowry? Let's see what our experts had to say.
- Tom Ziller, SB Nation NBA, Sactown Royalty -- Atlanta wins 11 of 20
- Andrew Sharp, SB Nation NBA -- Toronto wins 12 of 20
- Steve Perrin, SB Nation NBA, Clips Nation -- Atlanta wins 12 of 20
- J.R. Wilco, Pounding the Rock -- Toss up, 10 wins each
- J.A. Sherman, Welcome to Loud City -- Toronto wins 12 of 20
- Overall probabilities -- Atlanta 49 percent; Toronto 51 percent
The thing about this tournament is, someone like Kyle Lowry is already kinda impossible to stop off the dribble in a real game. In 3 on 3? He'd be outrageous. Plus Terrence Ross is the perfect defender for someone like Josh Smith. Don't sleep on Toronto here. -- Sharp
This is why this idea is so much fun -- the crazy mismatches and only three players on the court. Horford has to chase Bargnani off the three-point line, Lowry and Smith torturing rookies playing out of position defensively. I have no idea what would happen, but I'd love to watch. -- Perrin
Both the Hawks and Raptors include rookies on their squads with Jenkins and Ross, respectively. It is difficult to predict how a perimeter-playing rookie will perform under such circumstances, since it usually takes time for shooters to adapt from college to the pro game with enough understanding on how to get open looks. So if we conclude that the rookies cancel each other out, I think this series comes down to Josh Smith's shot selection and consistency. He runs hot or cold, so I could easily see him heating up and dominating for stretches. However, if he's running cold, he undermines just about everything. I like Bargnani's ability to play from the perimeter to stretch the defense and Lowry's physical presence in running the offense. They should be able to create more scoring opportunities and then benefit when Smith's shot goes cold. -- Sherman
The Bottom Line
Talk about a toss up. Cumulatively, the experts have Atlanta as the slightest of underdogs, winning 49 times out of 100 meetings with Toronto.
We're going to let the dice decide as we always do. Atlanta is the better seed, so its percentage is the key here. A roll of 49 or lower means an Atlanta win, 50 or higher gives it to Toronto.
Who do you think would win?
The results will be posted later this afternoon.
For a complete look at the SB Nation 3 on 3 Tournament, check back with this StoryStream.