Beachcombings: Sea Dubs Fight for Final Playoff Spot

By Kevin Danna

Get the inside scoop on all things Santa Cruz Warriors and G League from play-by-play announcer Kevin Danna:

1. Coming out of the All-Star break
The G League no longer has an All-Star Weekend, but NBA G League teams still get a break during NBA All-Star Weekend. The Sea Dubs entered the break at 18-16, holding on to the 6th and final playoff spot by a game over the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario and a game behind the Stockton Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. It’s a jumbled mess in the Western Conference right now, as Santa Cruz is only two games out of third place in the West and just two games ahead of 10th-place Iowa.

Speaking of Iowa, the Sea Dubs did not enter the All-Star break on a happy note, as the Iowa Wolves blasted Santa Cruz 152-117 last Wednesday. It matched the worst home loss in team history and the 152 points were the most given up by Santa Cruz in more than three years

2. New faces
A major reason why Santa Cruz lost to Iowa by 35 was that the Warriors only had eight healthy bodies for the game, and one of them got into town for the first time three hours before tip time.

That new guy is Dominic Green, who played at the University of Washington for four years and spent time in training camp with the Erie BayHawks before being waived at the onset of the regular season. At home in Washington, he literally received a phone call from the Santa Cruz staff at noon on the day of the Iowa game asking him if he could make a 1:30 p.m. flight to San Jose. Three hours after that phone call, Dominic was in the Bay Area, and later that night, he played 26 minutes and contributed five points and four rebounds without having any real familiarity with the team (he was in a workout for Santa Cruz earlier this year, but as far as having practiced with the actual team, no).

Green isn’t the only new face on the squad. We told you about Kiwi Gardner’s return to the team last week and he continued his solid start to his third season with Santa Cruz with a 12-point, eight-assist and two-turnover performance against Iowa.

However, we haven’t really discussed Torren Jones, who has been with the squad for a couple of weeks. He’s a 6-9 forward who played at four different schools in college (Missouri, Midland JC, Fresno State and William Penn) and has been a nice energy big for the Sea Dubs. Every team needs that physical presence down low, and guys on the team credit his defense against 2018 second-round NBA Draft pick Chimezie Metu as a big reason why the San Antonio Spurs assignee slowed down in Santa Cruz’s 115-101 win at Austin on Feb. 9.

This is the nature of the G League. Only three guys who started the season with Santa Cruz are still on the roster – Andrew Harrison, Deyonta Davis and Isaiah Reese (who dropped a career-high 34 points against Iowa, mind you). This is what happens when guys like Jeremy Pargo and Juan Toscano-Anderson get called up (shout out to Pargo for that 15-point game against Phoenix, by the way), and the ability to plug in roster gaps at a moment’s notice is of vital importance in the G.

3. Big week ahead
It’s gonna be a dogfight to try to get to the playoffs for the sixth time in eight seasons for Santa Cruz, and the Sea Dubs have a couple of crucial home games this week against 18-18 Agua Caliente and 19-15 Stockton on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The good news for the Sea Dubs is that they are a combined 6-1 against Agua Caliente and Stockton (4-0 vs. ACC, 2-1 vs. Stockton). The bad news for the Sea Dubs is that they are just 4-10 at Kaiser Permanente Arena and for the most part, they really haven’t been all that close in their home losses – they have lost twice at the KPA by 35 points, another time by 25, and only one loss at home has been within two possessions. Hopefully the positive home vibes that have historically come with playing at Kaiser Permanente Arena (they have had a winning home record in all but one of their first seven seasons) return after the All-Star break.

One final thing to consider for this week – at 18-16, Santa Cruz probably needs to go 10-6 the rest of the way to feel good about making the playoffs. Last season, a 27-23 record did the trick for the 6th-seeded Salt Lake City Stars, but 28-22 should guarantee a surefire playoff berth.

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