66ers Veterans Provide Leadership Heading into Playoffs

As the 66ers gear up for the playoffs, they will be relying on the experience and leadership of a few players who were a part of last season’s playoff team.

Larry Owens, Marcus Lewis and Latavious Williams were all a part of the 66ers team that made a deep postseason run a season ago, reaching the D-League finals against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Coach Nate Tibbetts will be looking to his three veterans to set an example for the younger players as Tulsa enters this year’s playoffs.

“They should bring leadership because they’ve been through it,” Tibbetts said. “That’s what we expect of our guys that were there before and have gone through this. We need that leadership down the stretch.”

Each series in the playoffs is a best-of-three, with the first game played at the home court of the lower seed and the second game, and if necessary, the third game, are played at the higher seed’s court.

Tulsa secured the fourth seed and will play the Texas Legends in the first round, a team the 66ers are quite familiar with, as they played each other eight times in the regular season.

Because the 66ers made a run in the playoffs last year, Lewis said he learned how to be calm and collected when everything is on the line.

“From the playoffs last year, I just learned how to have poise during a game and not panic when they make a run, and following coach’s instructions, things like that,” Lewis said. “I have a lot of experience in different situations in the playoffs. Basically, I just have to stay calm and follow the game plan.”

Williams said he will use last year’s playoff experience to lead this year’s team by example.

“ I let Marcus Lewis do all the talking,” Williams said. “He’s the captain, so he talks to the guys a lot and Larry, he talks to the guys a lot. We’ve got a lot of leaders on this team. It’s good having a lot of people that like to talk.”

Part of what has made the 66ers so successful this season has been the balanced production throughout the lineup. Put into perspective, Tulsa’s player averaging the most minutes is Owens with 30.7 minutes per game. That total is only 35th-most in the league.

Lewis said one advantage this year’s team has over the team from a year ago is the amount of depth Tibbetts has to work with. The forward thinks it is often difficult for his coach to decide who to put in the lineup because everyone can be productive.

“This year, we have good players from the five starters, to the five guys on the bench,” Lewis said. “I think everyone on this team is a quality guy, which makes it tough on coach sometimes because we have a lot of good players.

“You really don’t know where you’ll get the scoring from. You don’t really know who to zone in on because we play as a team and as a unit.”