Simmons' Predictions

It's a little weird, but on the whole I think the Clippers are lucky to have Bill Simmons as a season ticket holder.  The fact that he renewed his seats, at least sort of, is a victory in a sense.

When the Clips brought in Dunleavy and were first on the rise, Simmons had recently moved to LA and wanted to write about the NBA and decided to get Clipper season tickets.  As a longtime diehard Celtics fan and "Boston Sportsguy," he worked out an equation that factored in his hatred of the Lakers and the result found him going to a lot of Clipper games.  The Red Sox had just won the World Series for the first time in his lifetime, the Patriots were Super Bowl champs, and the SportsGuy was becoming something of a Super Fan.  
And then he got a little excited as the Clippers improved dramatically and marched into the playoffs.  He was a little worried about the Clips as his tantilizing NBA mistress, since the Celtics were a mess.

But then last year the Clips were horrible and Simmons was disenchanted like many of us.  And then, to top it off, the Clips raised ticket prices.  Simmons was done, or so he thought.  Suddenly the Celtics had made a blockbuster trade and his keen NBA interest was heightened, and he considered the possibility of splitting a set of seats so that he could see some live NBA, some of the Celtics competition.  So he said yes and ordered seats, and then about 5 minutes later Brand was injured.  He sees himself as having certain jinx powers when it comes to the Clippers, especially after he wrote about his excitement about Shaun Livingston and then in the next game Liv's kneecap came off.  Who knows what he did before the last horrific Livingston injury, but the season was already over by that time anyway.

Right now Simmons is riding much higher than anybody deserves to be.  In his column about the Red Sox winning the world series he writes about his daughter, seemingly for the first time, and how she learned what "celebrate" means.  Parenting makes you soft, and he's expecting the arrival of baby son any day, which caused him to rush through his NBA predictions.  The Patriots are angry and invincible, and they have a big game coming up this weekend.  And the Celtics, of course, matter again.

So he's got some issues and conflicts with the Clippers, and it shows in his preview.  I heard him on the radio saying that he thought that the Clippers wouldn't be as bad as everybody thinks, because even though they lost EB, Brand wasn't so great last year.  At any rate, Simmons is more positive than anyone I've seen--including the estimable Clipper Steve--and he says that they'll get 40 wins and come up just short of reaching the playoffs.  He has NO #6 at 43-39, Memphis #7 at 42-40 and Utah #8 at 41-41, and the Clippers and GSW tied at 9 and 10 and 40 wins.   The interesting thing here is that most people are giving Utah the #6 slot and GSW #7, with NO, Memphis, and the Lakers fighting for the last slot.  What I like is that he puts Utah into the mix as a team that could be fighting into the final week.

He adds the Vegas over/under on wins on all the teams, which is a very interesting item.  The Vegas guys know what they're doing.  The o/u on the Clips is 30.5 games, and Simmons goes with the over.  It seems like a pretty good bet to me.  The only way it goes wrong is if the Clips get off to a horrible start and trade Maggette and Cassell--and then they're in line for a high pick.

There's some more.  Al Thornton #4 for ROY, behind Durant, Horford, and Juan Carlos Navarro.  Kaman #5 on unintentional comedy MVP--not bad.  Maggette #5 for randomly really good year, behind Rasheed, Tyson Chandler, Shaq (!), and his brother Jermaine.  So far, so good, decent treatment of the long suffering mistress.

But then it gets funky in his random predictions.  He predicts that EB and Livingston will combine to play less than 20 games.  Huh?  Given where they are right now in their rehab, that's a very low figure.  And it's hard to say how you come up with 40 wins with less than 20 games from those two, but I already mentioned how he thinks that losing Brand shouldn't be catastrophic.

And in the end, Simmons is a Celtic fan.  And he has seen Cassell on the Clippers, and he knows that if the Clippers tank and want to trade Cassell, he dramatically increases his chance of winning a title in Boston.  He's hedging his bets on the Celtics; he doesn't want to get too excited.  And he puts his desire forward obliquely, like he doesn't really want to wish for it.  He puts Cassell as the #1 February buyout guy, and then predicts "Cassell tanks in LA, gets bought out and signs with Denver over Boston."  Sorry, but it's a little obvious that Simmons is bending over backwards to lower his expectations and not jinx himself.  He must have some kind of formula, an equation that factors in what you need and want and what you can wish for.  If he pushes for the tank job and the buyout but predicts Cassell will go to Denver, he's not-so-secretly setting up a humble, non-aggressive path to Boston.

I think this is a highly unlikely scenario.  First of all, the big question mark with Cassell is whether he's going to stay healthy.  On top of that, he has to play well enough that other teams will actually want him.  If both of those things are true, it improves the Clippers picture before Brand comes back.  Next, Brand is probably going to play 40 games, and he could play 50.  So if Sam plays well enough to be a desirable commodity, and he keeps the Clips going, the Clips are looking at a healthy Cassell and a healthy Brand, to along with Maggette and others.  I happen to think that that's how the Clips get to 40+ wins and compete with NO, Mem, GSW and apparently Utah--it's really hard to see how that happens if you have a Cassell buyout and Brand/Liv under 20 games combined.

So in the end, Simmons is being faithful to his wife, who is about to have his baby and has never looked so good, and he's not sure what to think about his mistress.  If the Clips can stay the course and ride Simmons' luck against his own confused predictions, just maybe the Clippers and Celtics end up in the NBA finals.      

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