NBA D-League Playoff Preview: Sioux Falls Skyforce vs. Canton Charge
Things are looking bright for the Sioux Falls Skyforce heading into their first playoffs as the single affiliate of the Miami Heat. Winners of six straight, Sioux Falls gets a favorable draw in the Canton Charge, who lost 7 of their final 10 games. Can the Charge regain the form that at one point had them in control of the East Division? Here's how the two teams stack up:
The Breakdown: This may be the one NBA D-League playoff series in which both teams will rely on the old staples, size and defense. Not that these games will resemble '90s Knicks-Heat or anything: Even Canton's league-low pace (98 possessions per 48 minutes) would rank seventh in the NBA. But in a league dominated by offense -- particularly from guards -- a matchup between the No.1 (Sioux Falls) and No. 4 (Canton) defenses should lead to games played in the high-90s or low-100s. The Skyforce's homecourt advantage (league-best 19-6 record) could be crucial, as both teams have been great at home and sub-.500 on the road.
Head-to-Head: Sioux Falls has won two of the teams' three meetings, but has outscored Canton by just four points overall. The Skyforce have shot the lights out in those games (10.7 threes/game, 44% 3FG) against a normally solid perimeter defense. The turnover battle has been pivotal, as the Skyforce are the league's best team at forcing turnovers and Canton has struggled to take care of the ball since point guard Jorge Gutierrez was called up to the Nets. For the Charge, continuing to own the glass -- 40-31 on average in the three games -- will be a top priority, led by Arinze Onuaku and Olek Czyz (combined 35 PTS, 72% FG, 18.3 REB in 56 mpg vs. SXF).
Who's Hot: Canton glue guy Shane Edwards has taken on a leading role, averaging 19.8 points on 55% shooting since the All-Star break. Czyz, the sixth man, is averaging 15.5 points (61% FG) and 9.6 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per game over the past month. For Sioux Falls, former Celtic/Knick Henry (Bill) Walker is averaging 19.8 points, including 2.4 threes, and 7.8 rebounds per game since the All-Star break.
|Game 1||Thursday, April 10||Canton 99, Sioux Falls 86||Box Score|
|Game 2||Saturday, April 12||Sioux Falls 86, Canton 82||Box Score|
|Game 3||Monday, April 14||Sioux Falls 105, Canton 98||Box Score|