After defeating the division-leading Sioux Falls Skyforce twice in a row to clinch the final playoff spot, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants continue to roll. The Mad Ants squeaked by the Red Claws in overtime by a score of 104-103, with a game-winning layup from Matt Bouldin and clutch block by C.J. Fair. Fair had the best scoring night of his D-League career, finishing with 30 points. He also added 5 rebounds and 1 assist. Jordan Crawford played exceptionally well throughout the game, scoring 28 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals.
As for the number one seed Maine Red Claws, their best player Romero Osby scored 24 points and collected 10 rebounds. However, he struggled shooting the ball at times, making 9 of his 20 shot attempts. Off the bench, Omari Johnson scored 21 points and led the team with 17 rebounds. Former Kentucky forward James Young had a big night as well, scoring 17 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and adding 3 assists. Maine’s most accurate shooter, Chris Babb, scored 15 points on the night on 50 percent from the field.
As a team, the Maine Red Claws were slightly more accurate, shooting at a 44 percent success rate, which is why they maintained the lead until the fourth quarter. The only problem for them is that the Mad Ants have become accustomed to making runs and coming back from deficits. The Red Claws did not handle it well in the fourth quarter and allowed the Mad Ants to tie the score, sending the game into the overtime period. The Red Claws made one three pointer, but Fair and Bouldin both scored two point shots. In the final possession, Osby drove to the basket for a layup, but Fair blocked the shot, clinching the game.
In the NBA D-League playoff format, every series is best-of-three. Therefore, if the Fort Wayne Mad Ants win the next game, they will have upset the Maine Red Claws and continue their quest to repeat as champions.
By Joshua Hamer