The SB Nation NBA 3 on 3 Tournament continues this week with the conference semi-finals. There have been 24 games so far, which means 24 of the original 32 teams have been eliminated. The first round of the tournament went more or less according to script, but the second round was chock full of upsets, so the remaining eight teams include a few favorites and a few more teams you might not expect. The first conference semi-final on deck features one of those favorites (the Boston Celtics) versus one of those surprise teams (the East Leftovers).
The Celtics feature one of the most recognizable threesomes in the entire tournament with All Stars Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Boston advanced to this point by dispatching the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks. All three of these guys are outstanding defenders and they certainly have experience playing together. Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog feels pretty confident that his team will advance to the East Finals, especially with Rondo at the helm: "Rondo ... 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."
The East Leftovers team is not supposed to be here, in more ways than one. With 30 NBA teams, we decided to create a couple of extras to round out the tournament field to 32, so we created one team from each conference out of the best players who were not selected by their own teams. In the East, that produced this Leftover team of Brandon Jennings, Gerald Wallace and Roy Hibbert, who must be gratified to still be playing after Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Indiana have been sent packing. The Leftovers defeated the 76ers in the first round and upset the Bulls in the second round to find themselves here. Jennings, Wallace and Hibbert have no lack of talent, but how well they fit together is open to debate.
Let's see what our panel of experts has to say.
- Tom Ziller, SB Nation NBA, Sactown Royalty -- Boston wins 13 of 20
- Andrew Sharp, SB Nation -- Boston wins 15 of 20
- Frank Madden, Brew Hoop -- Boston wins 12 of 20
- J.A. Sherman, Welcome to Loud City -- Boston wins 12 of 20
- CA Clark, Silver Screen and Roll -- Boston wins 13 of 20
- Probability to win any given game -- Boston 65 percent; EastOvers 35 percent
- Probability to win series -- Boston 71.83 percent; EastOvers 28.17 percent
Jennings and Rondo: two guards with exactly opposite jumper confidence levels. -- Ziller
Rajon Rondo is probably the best 3 on 3 point guard in the NBA, and on the other side ... I don't really understand how the East Leftovers got this far. Pierce can outscore Wallace every time, and KG can hold his own against Hibbert. This won't be close. -- Sharp
The leftovers are a nice group, but chemistry counts for too much in this kind of scenario. Jennings is always a wild-card and Hibbert's size could be problematic for KG, but the C's have too much experience not to prevail. -- Madden
Neither team is going to be flush with easy points, with both Garnett and Hibbert clogging the lanes. It will come down to the fact that Rondo knows how to get his teammates more quality shots than Jennings will. -- Sherman
Points will be tough to come by on both sides of this matchup. Boston's cohesiveness gets the edge but Hibbert's size will cause them some problems. -- Clark
The Bottom Line
So Boston is given a nearly two-in-three chance to win any given game by our panel of experts, which equates to close to a three-in-four chance that it will win the series. Of course, the East Leftovers have already defied the odds just to get to this point, and they can certainly pull the upset here again.
All that's left to do now is to roll the dice. The Celtics will be looking for rolls of 65 or lower, the Leftovers want to see a 66 or higher.
Who do you think would win this one?
The results will be posted at 5 p.m. ET.
For a complete look at the SB Nation 3 on 3 Tournament, check back with this StoryStream.