The Fort Wayne Mad Ants are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Maine Red Claws by a score of 121-111. Jordan Crawford and C.J. Fair, possibly the best duo in the D-League playoffs, played exceptionally well. Crawford scored 36 points, along with 5 assists and 3 steals. He was shooting from anywhere on the court and no one could stop him. Fair had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 2 steals. He has become a much more reliable complementary player to a volume scorer like Crawford. A key contributor, particularly in the first and fourth quarter, was Matt Bouldin. He scored 23 points, 9 of which were three pointers in the first half, as well as 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. The Mad Ants were rolling like a well-oiled machine, and looked like a team that has every intention of repeating as D-League champions.
The Maine Red Claws had a tough night shooting, especially from beyond the arc and on their free throws. Two of their star players Chris Babb and James Young, had a somewhat pedestrian game for their standards in both departments. Babb had 16 points–6 for 16 from the field and 2 for 11 for three pointers. Young had 11 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and only making one three pointer. Both players shot 50 percent from the free throw line. The Red Claws top player throughout the game was Romero Osby, who scored 33 points on 12-18 shooting, and grabbed 7 rebounds. Davion Berry also played well, contributing 23 points on 8-13 shooting from the field.
As a team, the Red Claws missed 10 of their 30 free throw shots, and they not so coincidentally lost by 10 points. Also, coming into the playoffs, they were one of the best three point shooting teams in the league. The Red Claws live and die by the three point arc. Yet, they only shot 28 percent from long distance, opposed to the Mad Ants shooting 39 percent overall.
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants will play the winner of the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Canton Charge series, which is tied at 1-1. The Mad Ants record against the Charge this season is 1-2, and their record against the Skyforce is an even 3-3.
The team looks very hungry and seems to be putting it together at the right time so they can seize the NBA’s D-League title for the second year in a row.The Fort Wayne Mad Ants coaching staff has done a great job rebuilding this team, and now they are just one series away from the finals.
By Joshua Hamer