Since most everyone will be focusing on either the NFL Draft, Game 6 of the San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies series, the NHL Playoffs, this week's Shark Tank episode (Jeff Foxworthy is back as an investor!) or Kathy Griffin's coverage of the Royal Wedding on the TV Guide Channel, I'm going to lead today's entry off with some excellent news!
The NBA D-League, in partnership with the VERSUS television network, will delay tonight's airing of the championship game between the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Iowa Energy (which will be played in Des Moines at 7 p.m.) until midnight central time so all of the fans can catch it without interruption from those other pesky primetime shows.
For what it's worth, I think I'm going to pick the Vipers to win simply due to having more NBA caliber talent. I wouldn''t be shocked, however, if Energy coach Nick Nurse is able to get his misfit toys to band together one more time and pull out a victory. In fact, I almost wish that Mustafa Shakur, Jeff Adrien, Othyus Jeffers, Marqus Blakely, Courtney Sims and the rest of the standout players that were with these two teams during the regular season before moving on to greener pastures were allowed to return to their D-League teams for tonight's championship game.
For the rest of tonight's preview, I turn in it over to Jonah Goldberg and the over-informative game notes I received from him in my inbox last night. It's a bit Vipers heavy, but that's only because I didn't receive any game notes from the Energy.
- The lower seed has not won the Championship since 2006, when the Albuquerque Thunderbirds defeated the Fort Worth Flyers. The Asheville Altitude were the lower seed when they beat the Columbus Riverdragons in 2005, but the Altitude were the higher seed when they beat the Huntsville Flight in 2004. Asheville is not only the only team to ever repeat, but the only one to win two championships. The Vipers were the higher seed when they beat Tulsa last year, but are the lower seed, like Asheville was, looking to repeat this year.
- Only one Vipers player has experience winning a championship. Jon Scheyer won the Illinois state high school championship with Glenbrook North in 2005 and the NCAA Championship with Duke in 2010. (Scott's note: It looks like Iowa's Stanley Robinson was a member of the United States Men's U18 National Team that won the gold medal in the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 28-July 2 in San Antonio)
- The Vipers are 3-1 all-time, and 2-0 on the road in the NBADL Finals. The Vipers are 2-2 when playing on VERSUS during the playoffs this year. They were 2-2 when playing on VERSUS during the playoffs last season and are 9-4 all-time including the regular season. The Vipers are 3-2 when playing on VERSUS away from home. The Vipers are 3-1 all-time on VERSUS during the Finals. The Vipers were 3-0 in televised games during the regular season and 1-0 on the road.
- And a final note, courtesy of the D-League's Matthew "Bertha Faye" Brennan: In the first two games of the Finals, close games in the first half have been blown open by dominant third quarters. In Game One it was the Energy outscoring Rio Grande Valley 29-9, but the Vipers returned the favor with a 41-24 third quarter in Game Two. A strong start to the second half for either team will be key if the past week is any indication.