The Sioux Falls Skyforce clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed and the best record in the D-League this season, on Friday night. But Sioux Falls has higher aspirations.
Despite opening the season 0-2, the Skyforce is now 34-8. With eight games remaining in the regular season, it has to win "just" five of those to cement its place in D-League lore -- the 2011-'12 Los Angeles D-Fenders went 38-12, and that mark stands as the best record in D-League history. So far.
Skyforce head coach Dan Craig told his players prior to Sioux Falls' March 11 game against Canton that the team has a real shot at breaking the record, according to Dan Ferrara of dleague.nba.com.
Craig's acknowledging the possibility of breaking the record is significant. He has been focused on the present all season, telling myself and fellow media members that the team is solely focused on the Skyforce's next game. But as the possibility of breaking the record becomes more and more of a reality, even Craig can no longer ignore it.
. The Charge is arguably the second best team in the D-League. Not only does it have the second best record to Sioux Falls, but playing in the same division as the Skyforce, it has to play Sioux Falls more than any other division leader.
I expect the Skyforce to split this doubleheader. Projected record: 35-9
Sioux Falls then gets a few days of rest before taking on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The Skyforce is 5-0 vs. Fort Wayne this year. I'm not going to waste your time. Sioux Falls will win this game. Projected record: 36-9
Next up is an Easter weekend road doubleheader against the Delaware 87ers. The 87ers have really struggled adjusting to life without Jordan McRae, signed for the season by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sean Kilpatrick, who is carving a niche for himself with the Brooklyn Nets and is reportedly close to signing a multiyear deal. Skyforce will sweep the doubleheader and tie the D-Fenders' mark. Projected record: 38-9
The Skyforce's final doubleheader is a home-and-away vs. the Iowa Energy, a team that has given Sioux Falls fits this year. They've split their four meetings, and all four contests have been decided by seven points or fewer. I predict Sioux Falls will win the home game on March 29, breaking the record, but fall two days later at Iowa. Projected record: 39-10
So the Skyforce, having won 39 games, if my guesses are correct (and judging by my NCAA bracket, they probably won't be), will have a chance to become the first D-League team (and probably the last) to win 40 games in a season. Its opponent? The Grand Rapids Drive.
The Skyforce is 5-0 vs. Grand Rapids this year. Other than one six-point win, all other victories haven't been very close, with the next closest game being decided by eight points. The Skyforce will win this game, shattering the D-League wins record in the process, and become the first team to win 40 games. Projected record: 40-10