NBA D-League Finals - How They Got There: Santa Cruz Warriors
If you're looking for NBA talent Santa Cruz is the place to go. Fifteen players with NBA experience have passed through the doors of Kaiser Permanente Arena since the Warriors moved their NBA D-League affiliate to the Bay Area in 2012. And while the cast of characters was largely different during this second season, the so-called "Sea-Dubs" have already established a tradition for developing big-time talent -- and winning while they do it.
Here's a look at how Santa Cruz reached the championship round:
|Record By Month|
It was clear from the very first day of the Warriors' season that they had a flair for the dramatic. On opening night, Seth Curry made his professional debut a memorable one, pouring in a franchise-record 36 points sixth months after graduating from Duke. Two days later, fellow rookie Nemanja Nedovic -- hyped as the "European Derrick Rose" but shrouded in mystery as the 30th overall pick in June's NBA Draft -- announced his arrival with 31 points and a highlight reel that would go viral on YouTube.
And Nedovic and the "SC Splash Brothers," with Klay's older brother Mychel Thompson in the mix, were just two of the recognizable faces who suited up for a team that played a West Coast swagger. Contributions came from past, present and future big leaguers, from Joe Alexander and Hilton Armstrong to Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.
Entering their Battle of California first-round matchup, the Warriors appeared to be running into a buzzsaw in a loaded L.A. D-Fenders team that had regularly blitzed opponents with 130-plus points for the past three months. It turned out to be the other way around.
Down 12 at halftime, Seth Curry became a one-man wrecking crew, scoring eight points in the 43 seconds to open the second half. He went on to finish with 44 on 15/20, proving that the clutch gene runs in the family. A complete team effort two days later downed the D-Fenders on their home floor.
The rematch of the 2013 Finals lived up to its billing as a three-part shootout, but this time it was the Santa Cruz's deadly inside-out combination that trumped RGV's long-range barrage. Help came from 70-some miles north in the form of 7-footer Ognjen Kuzmic, an assignee who delivered a second straight 23-point, 18-rebound effort in an overpowering 135-104 win.
While the Warriors suffered a knockdown of their own -- falling 136-113 on the road in Game 2 -- they emerged victorious by kicking the offense up one more level, erupting for a season-high 147 points in the winner-take-all Game 3. Fittingly, the "Splash Brothers" pitched in 53 of those.
|2013-14 Regular Season Statistics|
March 19: Curry Called Up to Cavaliers (Breakdown)
April 11: Curry Scores 44 Points in Playoff Debut