NBA D-League First Round Playoffs Preview: Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Maine Red Claws

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

We preview the first round NBA D-League playoffs matchup between the #2 seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the #7 Maine Red Claws.

Let's take a look at perhaps the most hyped matchup of the first round NBA D-League playoffs between the Maine Red Claws and Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The reason this may be the more advertised series is because of the plethora of D-League prospects and NBA assignees that will be playing against each other.

Looking at both of these rosters it's easy for one to see some of the most talented athletes in the league there, including Chris Wright, Jermaine Taylor, D.J Kennedy, Andrew Goudelock and Glen Rice, Jr. NBA fans watching the D-League playoffs as a means for watching future NBA players will likely get the most out of watching this series in particular.

The Vipers currently feature some of the aforementioned prospects like Kennedy, Goudelock and Rice, Jr but also have some underappreciated names like Toure Murry, Tyler Honeycutt and Tim Ohlbrecht who has since been re-assigned back to the D-League after being picked up by Houston in late February. That great core of players with heralded coach Nick Nurse at the helm, rolled to a 35-14 record and a 10 game winning streak to end the regular season.

While the Vipers were a force to be reckoned with in the D-League, the Maine Red Claws had to claw and scratch to grab that eigth seed after competing with Erie and Sioux Falls until the final moments of the regular season. Despite that, Maine still is similar to the Vipers because of their NBA quality talent like Chris Wright, Josh Selby, Jermaine Taylor, Micah Downs and Celtics assignee Fab Melo.

Matchup To Watch

Jermaine Taylor Vs. Andrew Goudelock

Combining the top scorers of the D-League into one series is bound to create some exciting moments which could very well happen when Taylor and Goudelock clash. Since Taylor's D-League return in mid-March, he's undoubtedly been the best scorer in the entire league by averaging 24.4 points on 48% shooting from the field , including a five game span where he scored 30 or more. Meanwhile, Goudelock has been just as good (if not better) since arriving in Rio Grande Valley in mid-January, averaging 21 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per contest since being traded from Sioux Falls.

Series Prediction

Rio Grande in 3 games (Best-of-3 game series)

Just like in the Bakersfield/Austin series, though this #2 vs #8 matchup may appear to be a bit lopsided, it is still probably going to be a very competitive series. As previously mentioned, these two teams are filled with extremely talented players. That added chemistry will make this into what could be a fantastic and competitive series.

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