NBA D-League Playoff Preview: RGV Vipers vs. Santa Cruz Warriors

Series will be televised on CBS Sports Network

It's been a year since the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Santa Cruz Warriors met in the 2013 NBA D-League Finals, yet just three players from that series will take part in this year's semifinal matchup. (Four players from those Finals are now in the NBA.) Instead, this year's rematch is a testament to how well the two franchises are utilizing the league and their ability to identify talent to replenish the farm. And both are once again powered by NBA-caliber talent.

BY THE NUMBERS:

47
Percent of RGV's field goal attempts that come from three-point range.

Every Vipers game essentially turns into a three-point contest, and if the shots are falling, it doesn't matter what team is standing in their way. The Warriors can fill it up, too, but have taken just 25% of their shots from deep. They attempted 1,047 shots from mid-range during the regular season; the Vipers attempted 280.

107
The pace -- average numbers of possessions per 48 minutes -- of the Vipers and Warriors' two games earlier this season.

By comparison, the average NBA game this season featured 97 possessions per 48 minutes. This stat comes as no surprise, considering that the Vipers' thrive by dictating the terms of every game they play. But the Warriors' main strength may be their versatility; they can beat teams at their own game, no matter the style. They dispatched a similar high-octane team, the L.A. D-Fenders, by pouring in a combined 278 points in two first-round games.

1
Santa Cruz ranks first in the league in both field goal percentage defense at the rim (57.9%) and overall opponent field goal percentage (44.4%).

From Dewayne Dedmon to Hilton Armstrong to (currently) Ognjen Kuzmic, the Warriors have had a 7-foot, NBA-caliber rim protector all season long -- which could pay off in this second round more than it ever has. While the Vipers' three-point barrages make headlines, their ability to get to the rim for easy buckets is an almost equally vital side of their attack. RGV attempted more shots at the rim than any team in the league this season, so minimizing those high-percentage looks is half the battle.

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Jan. 9 -- Santa Cruz 127, RGV 115: At the NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev., the Warriors gave the Vipers a taste of their own medicine, shooting 13-of-24 from three and 55% overall. Seth Curry, returning from a stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, had his way with RGV's defense, with 27 points, 8 assists and just 3 turnovers. RGV hit just 17 of their 52 three-point attempts, including 8-of-21 by Troy Daniels alone.

Feb. 26 -- RGV 138, Santa Cruz 124: The Vipers got their payback with a balanced attack that produced 20 treys -- one of 12 times this season they reached that plateau. Rockets assignees Robert Covington and Troy Daniels combined for 54 points on 16/27 shooting, and RGV outrebounded Santa Cruz, 50-41.

WHO'S HOT?

RGV: Darius Morris -- Averaged 38.7 points (61/68/71%), including 5.0 threes, and 12.3 assists in three-game first-round series vs. Iowa

Santa Cruz: Seth Curry -- Averaging 23.9 points, including 4.4 threes, on 47% shooting (48% from three) over his last 10 games, including a 44-point, 15/20 FG performance last Thursday against L.A.

GAME 3 TUNE-IN INFO: Monday, April 21 -- 8:00 PM ET -- CBS Sports Network

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Rio Grande Valley Vipers


Isaiah Canaan*
8.2 APG

Robert Covington*
23.2 PPG

Darius Morris
6.7 APG

First-Round Highlights: Canaan | Covington | Morris

Santa Cruz Warriors


Seth Curry
19.7 PPG

Cameron Jones
19.4 PPG

Ognjen Kuzmic*
11.7 RPG

First-Round Highlights: Curry | Jones | Kuzmic

*Player is under NBA contract and needs to be assigned to play in this series.

Game 1Thursday, April 17Santa Cruz 135, RGV 104Box Score
Game 2Saturday, April 19RGV 136, Santa Cruz 113Box Score