NBA D-League Game 3 Preview: RGV Vipers vs. Santa Cruz Warriors

This rematch of the 2013 NBA D-League Finals between two of the most high-powered offenses in the NBA D-League has already seen 488 points scored and 155 three-pointers launched in its first two games. The home team has delivered a 130+-point blow in both. What's in store for Monday night on CBS Sports Network (8 p.m. ET), with a return trip to the 'ship on the line? Here's NBADLeague.com's breakdown of the winner-take-all Game 3?

KEYS TO THE GAME

1
Assigned, Sealed & Delivered? Sometimes it's flat-out NBA-caliber talent that makes a difference in these matchups, and these teams have that in spades. Seven-footer Ognjen Kuzmic was too much for RGV to handle in Game 1 (23 points, 18 rebounds in 27 minutes), while Isaiah Canaan took total command of Game 2 (43 points, 7 assists, 0 turnovers). Though both parent clubs are locked in NBA playoff series, their assignments -- along with, potentially, Houston's Robert Covington and Troy Daniels -- could swing the pendulum in either direction.

2
Pace Yourself: After running into a buzzsaw in Game 1, RGV righted the ship in Game 2 by doing what it does best: running and gunning. Game 2 featured 113 possessions compared to 105 in Game 1, allowing the Vipers to create chaos: 52 three-point attempts (17 makes), plus 31 points off 23 Warriors turnovers (vs. 12 points off 8 turnovers forced for Santa Cruz). The burden for controlling tempo will fall on the dynamic point guards, Canaan and Seth Curry.

3
Paint Patrol: The "Vip3rs" -- also known as "Trio Grande Valley" -- have attracted national attention for their three-ball-heavy offense. But getting high-percentage looks at the rim is an equally critical part of "Moreyball," and RGV came out ultra-aggressive in Game 2, with 30-of-40 shooting in the restricted area and 32 free-throw attempts (compared to 24/40 shooting and 16 FT in Game 1). Santa Cruz will need to wall off the paint and pick its poison from beyond the arc in Game 3.

TUNE-IN INFO: Live on CBS Sports Network at 8 PM ET


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Rio Grande Valley Vipers


Isaiah Canaan*
8.2 APG

Robert Covington*
23.2 PPG

Darius Morris
6.7 APG


Santa Cruz Warriors


Seth Curry
19.7 PPG

Cameron Jones
19.4 PPG

Ognjen Kuzmic*
11.7 RPG

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


SERIES RECAP

Game 1: Warriors 135, Vipers 104 -- Santa Cruz set the tone from the get-go, racing out to a 19-6 lead in the first 4:31 and a 41-23 lead after the first quarter. Warriors rookie center Ognjen Kuzmic dominated inside with 9 points and 6 rebounds in that first quarter and 23 & 18 for the game, frontcourt mate Lance Goulbourne filled up the box score (14 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists) and the Vipers shot just 11/38 from deep.



Game 2: Vipers 136, Warriors 113 -- The backcourt duo of Isaiah Canaan (43 points, 8/17 from three, 7 assists, 0 turnovers) and Darius Morris (22 points, 10 assists, 2 turnovers) got RGV's offense humming again, and the Vipers stepped up on the other end of the floor, limiting Santa Cruz to 12 offensive rebounds and forcing 23 turnovers.