The second game of the series, led 1-0 by Austin, tips off tonight tape-delayed on VERSUS at 11 pm ET from Austin, Texas.
First, I'll get my gripes out there: How does it make sense to tape-delay a playoff game with no other means of watching this game? It's hard enough to get people interested in the D-League and it's not very likely that many fans will stay in/up until 11 pm to watch a tape-delayed game on a Saturday night. Would be nice to at least have Futurecast as an option since the Futurecast page says "Watch ALL games free on Futurecast," but I digress.
In the first game of this series, Austin held on to defeat the Wizards 98-96 behind terrific play of Spurs assignees Curtis Jerrells and Alonzo Gee, who combined for 57 points to lead the way for the Toros. This game, they've added a bit more firepower as Marcus Williams will play tonight after declining a call-up/getting denied by the Indiana Pacers (I'll have more as soon as I can get straight stories from everyone involved - it's a mess right now). Dakota will have to rely it's veteran leadership tandem of Maurice Baker, Renaldo Major and Corsley Edwards to have a chance at evening the series instead of going back to Bismarck empty handed.
My keys to the game are below the fold!
First, for Dakota:
- Use your size: Corsley Edwards is an exceptional big man for the D-League with his size, veteran savvy and shooting touch, especially in a game against an undersized Toros team without the services of Dwayne Jones. He did well to get the Austin bigs in foul trouble in the first game, but it's imperative that he take on a heavier load this game with Austin having the advantage with a three-headed monster in its backcourt.
- Defense is the backbone: The Wizards will have to shut down at least one of the Toros scoring options if they want to win. Major has been bringing it on defense all season, but the task of stopping Williams isn't an easy one. Baker will at least have to provide a counterpunch to Jerrells offensive production if he's not able to slow him down. The matchup that could get crazy is Gee - Darren Cooper and Lester Hudson couldn't contain him - so I think I'd try getting creative and put 6-foot-9 stopper and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Dove on him and let him go to work.
- Everyone needs to contribute: Austin has more talent, but Dakota has more depth (and cohesiveness - or at least they should). If everyone can provide a punch, it'll be hard for Austin to stop.
- Play hard early: They can't let Dakota think they have a chance. If Dakota pulls ahead early, I don't think they'll relinquish the lead.
- Exploit mismatches: Whichever wing doesn't have Major on him, let him go to work. Go small and quick against Edwards. Make Michael Joiner a perimeter presence.
- Set the pace: No need to expound on this one.
For individual matchups (sans Marcus Williams), check my game one preview.
Score prediction: I picked Austin in three, so I guess I have to go Dakota 102-97.
Random Prediction: It's going to get chippy.