The Los Angeles D-Fenders won the opening game of the series on the road, giving Coach of the Year Eric Musselman's team two chances to clinch the 2012 D-League Championship at home against the Austin Toros. The homecourt advantage the Lakers' practice facility provides wasn't enough in Game 2 on Thursday night, but Los Angeles has a chance to redeem themselves in the deciding Game 3 on Saturday night.
The Toros basically blew out the D-Fenders in Game 2, sailing to a 79-58 lead at the end of three quarters before picking up the 113-94 victory in what ended up being a rather chippy game as five technical fouls added to the 56 team fouls called by the officiating team. In the end, though, Justin Dentmon and Julian Wright came through for the Toros with 26 points apiece to force a third game in the Best-of-3 series.
My pick was the D-Fenders in three games, but it might be time for Musselman to start all of his best players in order to avoid a slow beginning once again on Saturday night. Inserting Malcolm Thomas and Mardy Collins to team up alongside Elijah Millsap and Zach Andrews could create quite a few mismatches while still allowing scoring threats like Andre Ingram and Brandon Costner to come off the bench.
It'd be best if the Toros had Eric Dawson back in the lineup, but with concussions, there's no sense in trotting him out there before he's ready (and I've heard nothing indicating that he'll be ready Saturday after missing Thursday's game). In his absence, Austin will need solid games out of Dentmon and Julian Wright once again -- and it wouldn't hurt if Flip Murray was able to get going on the offensive end, either.