The D-League Eastern Conference Finals are set to begin between the reigning champion Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the Canton Charge. This best of 3 series has the potential to be one of the most exciting match-ups of the year. Both teams are more similar than they would like to admit. Here’s why:
- They rely heavily on two key players performing well. The Mad Ants (after Andre Emmett’s departure) depend on Jordan Crawford’s volume scoring, and C.J. Fair’s versatility and hustle. The Charge depend on James Singleton’s toughness and consistency and Joe Harris’ shooting accuracy.
- Both teams rebound well. James Singleton is the second best rebounder in the league, and Alex Kirk is an exceptional rebounder in his own right for the Charge. C.J. Fair is the Mad Ants’ best rebounder, with Jordan Crawford and Matt Bouldin being surprisingly good at it for their size and position.
- Both teams can share the ball. Jordan Crawford not only scores in spurts, but he is near the top in assists along with Matt Bouldin. As for the Charge, Joe Harris can dish it out when necessary, as well as his teammates Chris Crawford and Justin Johnson. Each team utilizes the pick and roll offense and always makes the extra pass to get an open shot. They are somewhat old-school half-court oriented teams.
However, every team has a weakness.
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants have three major ones that could hinder their chances of beating the Charge:
- If Jordan Crawford and C.J. Fair do not find their offense, the Mad Ants as a whole tend to struggle.
- They cannot slack on defense. The Charge’s offense is predicated on opposing team’s defensive mistakes.
- If they live by the three, they will die by the three. Inconsistent shooting from beyond the arc have created tough come-back situations that are hard to win.
The Canton Charge also have three major weaknesses that the Mad Ants could exploit:
- If the Mad Ants find a way to stop James Singleton from being so dynamic, and played Joe Harris tightly enough defensively to prevent him from scoring, their chances of winning would be slim.
- Outside shooting is not as consistent as it could be. Most of their points come from inside the paint.
- The Charge lack depth in terms of size. They do not have as many big men on their roster as the Mad Ants, who have two seven-footers.
This series will either be filled with shootouts or defensive standoffs that lead to overtime. It will be very intriguing to watch.
Game 1 will take place on April 16 in Fort Wayne at 7 pm.
By Joshua Hamer