There are three series deciding games today, so in lieu of bombarding you with three different preview posts, Scott and I decided to combine forces and bring you one big preview post for all of the games.
In a perfect world, this would also serve as a gamethread that we can use to discuss whatever's going on in whichever game we're watching. So, basically, comment during the games
or die! or leave your predictions since we don't have a poll for today's action.
Since Scott's a bit of a diva, we've decided to put all three below the jump so that nobody has their feelings hurt.
#7 Utah Flash at #1 Iowa Energy, 5 pm Eastern on Futurecast; Series tied 1-1
Background: Iowa tied this series up due to stellar play from Curtis Stinson and terrible shooting from the Utah Flash. There's a bit more to it than that, so if you're concerned, go check out my recap.
Key for Iowa: Make shots. The players around Stinson need to step up, specifically Pat Carroll who has hit just 8-of-32 from the field including 4-of-15 from beyond the arc. If the Energy are able to hit their three-point shots and Stinson keeps doing what he's doing, they'll squeak by to the second round.
Key for Utah: Stop Stinson. If they're able to either get Stinson into foul trouble or frustrate him enough to add to his league-leading technical foul count early in the game, I think they'll be okay.
#5 Dakota Wizards at #3 Austin Toros, 6 pm Eastern on Futurecast, Series tied 1-1
Background: Dakota evened this series up with great second half defense and production from the majority of the roster. Read the game two recap if you'd like to learn more.
Key for Dakota: Play defense. They're not going to be able to keep up on offense, but they are a very good defensive team when they want to be (like Saturday's second half). They'll have to rely on their vets and play solid defense if they're going to move on to the second round.
Key for Austin: I really don't know. They did about everything they were supposed to do (get the big three to score) and lost in game two. It pretty much comes down to Dakota's defense.
#8 Tulsa 66ers at #4 Sioux Falls Skyforce, 7 pm Eastern on Futurecast; Series tied 1-1
Background: Sioux Falls evened the series behind a dominant performance from center Greg Stiemsma. He's really been the lynchpin of both games - his foul trouble in game one allowed the 66ers to drive into the paint whenever they wanted. Depending if he's back from a tryout with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he might alter this series in another way this evening. Tulsa has been relying on its NBA assignees, particularly guards Kyle Weaver and Mustafa Shakur. Both of those guys contribute offensively and defensively, and they've made things tough for the Skyforce's shooters.
Key for Sioux Falls: Get Kirk Penney going - Penney has a reputation as a lights-out shooter, but he's had a fairly quiet series so far. Tulsa's defense has been part of that, but the Skyforce need to do something to jumpstart his offense - screens, curls, pick and rolls, something. They need to make the 66er defenders work. This goes for all of their shooters, but Penney's the guy who can make Tulsa pay the most.
Key for Tulsa: Attack the rim - They've already been doing this, so this isn't a big switch, but one of two scenarios will happen; either Stiemsma will still be in (or on his way back) from Minnesota and the Skyforce frontcourt will be depleted even more - pretty much down to Nate Jawai, Raymond Sykes and an undersized Joe Krabbenhoft playing PF. Or, Stiemsma will be there, and the 66ers should try to get him in foul trouble as they did in game one. Either way, it behooves them to attack the basket and not settle for jumpers (hi, Byron Mullens).