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Tulsa 66ers @ Iowa Energy - D-League Semifinals Playoff Preview - Game 3

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Game Two Highlights

The series-deciding game of this second round match-up tips off tonight at 7 pm CT from lovely Des Moines, Iowa as the #1 Iowa Energy take on the #8 Tulsa 66ers in a win-and-go-the-championship-or-lose-and-go-home slugfest.  And if you don't live in Iowa (and don't care to watch the regular NBA playoffs), it can be watched live, and free, on Futurecast.

I used slugfest in the preceding paragraph because thus far this series has been marred by sloppy play, random standout players and the realization for both teams that losing players to the NBA this late in the season isn't exactly ideal.

Still, now with each team's roster nearly as close to being consistent as one team can get in the D-League (no roster changes all week!), I expect each coach to have his team playing better basketball tonight.

Let's get down to it, though - What are the keys?

For the Energy:

  • Iowa's veteran leadership (Curtis Stinson, Denham Brown and Jeff Trepagnier all have a considerable amount of D-League experience) needs to bring the, uh, leadership.
  • The Energy will also have to make some buckets after making just 35-of-96 from the field in their last game.
  • Defending the perimeter is a must after Tulsa shot 14-of-25 from beyond the arc last game.  They're built on doing that sort of thing, especially the second unit, so Iowa will have to do a better job of making them miss early so they don't start feeling it late.

For the 66ers:

  • Keep the composure.  Deron Washington, Tulsa's only early offensive threat, fell apart early in the third quarter in the 66ers' victory this series by picking up a technical, a flagarant and his fifth foul in a rather sport span. If the 3-ball wouldn't have been falling, Tulsa would be back in Oklahoma right now due to his losing composure.  Coach Nate Tibbetts also picked up a technical while arguing what I perceived to be a bad call by not-Nick Buchert.  And last, but not least, Marcus Lewis got T'd up for jawing with Curtis Stinson - though that may have been planned to make Stinson lose his cool.
  • Control the pace.  Tulsa had issues running a halfcourt offense last game, probably due to the lack of Mustafa Shakur (who was recalled to the Oklahoma City Thunder before last game) but excelled in transition.  That's going to have to happen again.
  • Keep making Iowa miss shots.  I don't know what was wrong last game, but Iowa could not buy a basket last game.  If that happens again this game, the 8 seed will be going to the championship!

UPDATE: For more on this game, check out my contributions at Fanhouse - first, another preview.  Second, an interview with Nick Nurse.