Darius Morris might be ready to repeat his 2013-14 playoffs run all over again if Thursday’s 29 point outing has any foretelling signs. In the six games of the 2013-14 Rio Grande Vipers playoff run, Darius Morris stepped up to average 30 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game to lead the Vipers past the Iowa Energy before getting edged out by the Santa Cruz Warriors in the semifinals.
Now after his first full regular season as a Viper, Morris came up big in the postseason again by leading the Vipers to a 124-116 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Defenders, a team Morris formerly played for. Morris spent almost the entire game in a headline matchup against NBADL All-Star point guard Josh Magette. Morris firmly claimed the initial battle by rendering Magette helpless to impede Morris’s scoring opportunities due to Morris’s size advantage.
Despite Morris not having the quickness to rival the Isaiah Thomases of the world, Morris’s 6’5” height and strong frame made every attacking chance against the 6 foot tall Magette into a good look. Luckily for the Vipers, Morris had his typical aggressive mentality to catalyze as many of these attacking chances in the lane as possible.
Morris dominated to the extent of scoring 11 of the 13 field goals that he attempted within the arc, many of which right at the rim. The slashing success mitigated Morris’s unfortunately common cold streak from beyond the arc that was thankfully also minimized with perimeter mates Chris Johnson and Isaiah Taylor combining for 7 of 14 from three-point land.
If Morris stays his aggressive self off the dribble, there is little reason to think further success will not be imminent against this Los Angeles Defenders team that lacks a true rim protector because of the sacrifice for spacing on offense. The Defenders may decide to start switching their best defender David Nwaba onto Morris to try to seal off Morris before the rim protection issues rear their head.
However, the Rio Grande Vipers finished as the NBADL’s most potent offense for a reason and Morris has the unselfishness to let his fellow 20 points per game teammates Isaiah Taylor and Kyle Wiltjer take advantage of their likely mismatches too. Either way, Darius Morris and the Vipers have to be feeling good heading into Saturday night’s Game 2.