Heading into game 1 of the NBADL Finals on Sunday night, the Raptors 905 were looked at as the near unanimous favorite to defeat the RGV Vipers and become D-League champions. That confidence was due to the 905’s 12-game winning streak that started way back during the regular season.
Over the course of that time, the 905 were regularly able to defeat any D-League foe without breaking a sweat. Among the team’s twelve straight wings, the 905 won ten of those games by a margin of 15 or more points. That domination becomes even more impressive when you realize that the 905 were still able to easily defeat playoff teams like the Maine Red Claws and Canton Charge despite losing NBADL All-Stars Axel Toupane and Edy Tavares to separate NBA call-ups. Despite those absences, the 905 still entered the D-League Finals as favorites over the RGV Vipers.
Unfortunately for the 905, RGV Vipers guard Darius Morris didn’t give a damn about their success leading up to the NBADL Finals. That mentality was evident on Sunday night as Morris flirted with a triple-double by putting up 23 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds on 9-18 from the field and 3-8 from beyond the arc. Morris’ all-around play was the biggest factor behind the RGV Vipers’ 119-106 victory over the 905.
Morris could push the RGV Vipers in the same ways that allowed him to be one of our finalists for NBADL MVP. From the opening tipoff, you could really get the sense that Morris was willing to do anything that he possibly could to give the Vipers an advantage over the 905. That willingness was shown by Morris being able to contribute in a variety of different ways, whether it was as an on-ball cutter, perimeter shooter, or facilitating.
Among those skills, Morris did his best work as a facilitator as he did an amazing job of working the ball to his Vipers teammates. Most of Morris’ assists came through drive-and-dish as he could still utilize his tremendous handles to drive into the heart of the 905’s defense before kicking it out to a big or perimeter shooter.
Although he had a variety of solid assists throughout the night, his most impressive dish of the night is seen in the play below. After collecting one of his seven defensive rebounds, Morris motored his way down the court in transition. While the 905’s defense was anticipating that Morris would go for a transition layup, he switched things up by throwing a beautiful between-the-legs pass to Chris Johnson, who finished with a huge slam.
Morris’ great handles pushed him to have continued success against the 905’s defense, something that no other D-League guard has been able to do. No matter if the 905 put John Jordan or CJ Leslie on the 6’4 guard, Morris was able to find a way to score around the rim. That incredible persistence is seen in the play below as Morris just exhibits phenomenal handles in front of Leslie before driving left before finishing strong around the rim.
After that strong game 1 performance, Darius Morris and the RGV Vipers will head to Mississauga in an attempt to beat the 905 one more time to become D-League champ. Will Morris be able to repeat that great performance and lead the RGV Vipers to D-League glory? We’re going to have to wait and see when the series continues on Tuesday night.