NBA D-League Playoff Preview: L.A. D-Fenders vs. Santa Cruz Warriors
If you're looking for familiar faces in the NBA D-League playoffs, Cali is the place to go. NBA vets Shawne and Terrence Williams have helped create a juggernaut in El Segundo, while the Santa Cruz version of the Splash Brothers, Seth Curry and Mychel Thompson, has come on strong for the Warriors' playoff dark horse. Here's how the two teams stack up:
The Breakdown: There's no secret to the D-Fenders' virtually unstoppable offense this season: They get up and down the floor, launch from deep and share and protect the ball better than any team in the league. (It's no coincidence that they play in the same organization as Mike D'Antoni.) Like the rest of the league, the Warriors will have a tough time beating L.A. at its own game; they'll have to dictate the terms of the game and disrupt the D-Fenders' rhythm to advance.
Head-to-Head: The teams split their eight matchups this season, but half of those can be thrown out the window given how much L.A.'s roster has changed. What's clear is that the D-Fenders have done a better job of imposing their will: They've played the games at their pace and most importantly won the turnover battle by an average of 20.6 to 11.9, cancelling out Santa Cruz's big advantages in rebounds and points in the paint. If Ognjen Kuzmic, Lance Goulbourne and Joe Alexander continue to dominate inside, the Warriors need to find a way to pressure L.A.'s two main playmakers, Terrence Williams and the vastly underrated Josh Magette (combined 74 assists, 10 turnovers in the eight games).
Who's Hot: As if L.A. needed more weapons, Brandon Costner (19.5 ppg, 53% FG, 2.3 threes over last 12) has regained his old form, and former blue-chip Arizona recruit Josiah Turner has been getting to the basket at will (16.1 ppg, 63% FG over last 10) off the bench. For the Warriors, it's been a familiar duo: Curry has hit 4.7 treys on 48% shooting over his last eight, and Thompson is averaging 15.8 points over his last five, shooting 13/24 from beyond the arc.
|Game 1||Thursday, April 10||Santa Cruz 140, L.A. 137||Box Score|
|Game 2||Saturday, April 12||Santa Cruz 138, L.A. 126||Box Score|