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2018 NBA G League Playoff Game Preview: Texas Legends vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers

Editor Dakota Schmidt breaks down the upcoming playoff game between the Texas Legends and RGV Vipers.

Texas Legends Flickr

WHEN: 8 PM ET

WHERE: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas

HOW TO WATCH: Twitch

What you need to know about the Texas Legends:

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Texas Legends will be making their way to the G League playoffs as they finished with a franchise-best 29-21 record. That success was due to a top-5 offense as they averaged 118 points per game. While some of those elite offensive producers like Donald Sloan, Justin Dentmon and Johnathan Motley are no longer with the team, they still have their fair share of weapons.

Most of the Legends production comes from their front-court as the likes of Jameel Warney, Brandon Ashley, Jalen Jones and Cory Jefferson have shined. Warney shines as the leader of that quartet as he’s really developed as a well-rounded offensive weapon that can use his strong frame to dominate inside but also hit the occasional 3-point jumper as he hit 37% from beyond the arc over his last 10 games.

Speaking of bigs with perimeter prowess, Jefferson has been a knockdown shooter since he arrived in late February as he’s shot 41% from beyond the arc. On the other end of the spectrum, Ashley and Jones have shined as players that can put the ball on the floor and figure out a way to score at the rim.

In regards to their backcourt, midseason additions Duke Mondy and Jordan Downing have been immediately stood out as great assets. The 6’4 Mondy has shined as a terrific facilitator as he’s averaged 6.3 assists with a 2.45 Ast/TO ratio. Meanwhile, Downing has just been a knockdown threat since he came to the team as he’s shooting an unbelievable 47% from beyond the arc in 5.1 perimeter attempts per game.

Player To Watch: Brandon Ashley, Power Forward

For most of the regular season, the duo of Jameel Warney and Mavs two-way player Johnathan Motley (who won’t be with the Legends), just shined as the best front-court in the G League as they were threats to put up 20 points, 10 rebounds on a nightly basis.

As the attention was on that duo, Brandon Ashley stood as a super reliable do-it-all forward. Over the course of the season, Ashley repeatedly showed a knack for showing strong footwork in the low-post, facilitating, being a solid help-defender and using solid handles to drive past a defender.

Although he’s been a pretty consistent contributor, he just ended the regular season on a tear as he averaged 19.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 43% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc. If he can carry over that kind of play into the game against RGV then the Legends might be moving onto the next round of competition.

What you need to know about the RGV Vipers

While the Texas Legends were a terrific offense thanks to the play from their front-court player,s the RGV Vipers shined thanks to an extremely deep backcourt. For starters, the team features potential MVP candidate RJ Hunter who has had a career-year for the team by averaging 20 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 44% from the field and 39% from 3. Away from that, Nuggets two-way player Monte Morris and the recently returning Darius Morris both shine as some of the best facilitators in the entire league.

Thanks to the Houston Rockets, the Vipers frontcourt should be in decent shape as they’ll have Zhou Qi and Chinanu Onuaku in uniform for this game. For Onuaku, he’s that rare player that can combine a big 250 pound frame with an ability to run the court in transition and even do some facilitating as he averaged 2.9 assists per game. On the other hand, Zhou Qi is force to be reckoned with when he’s on the court as his jaw-dropping 8’0 wingspan allows him to a versatile defender. Meanwhile, he’s shown an ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim.

Player To Watch: Darius Morris, Point Guard

In the final week of the G League regular season, the RGV Vipers made a significant move as they dropped Tony Wroten to pick up Darius Morris. This move was significant due to how fantastic Morris was with the RGV Vipers during the prior season where he averaged 20 points, 6.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game on 45% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc.

As a pass-first guard, Morris is really solid in his ability to cut into the teeth of a defense and work the ball around to teammates. Although he just came to the team on March 21st, he seems to have already built that connection with his new teammates as he’s averaging 7.7 assists with a 2.3 Assist/TO ratio in his three games with the team this year. If he can maintain that excellent facilitating into this game against Texas then the RGV Vipers should be making their way to the next round.