The NBA G-League Finals start tonight! It has been both an exciting and surprising playoff tournament this year, especially with the single elimination factor in the first three rounds. Here is how the playoffs have shaken out as of today:
- Raptors 905 defeats Grand Rapids Drive 92-88
It was a close game throughout, as both Lorenzo Brown of the Raptors 905 and Kay Felder of the Grand Rapids Drive came to play. They each scored 24 points as they dueled each other to the finish. Raptors 905 efficient three point shooting and consistency at the free throw line made the difference for the win.
- Erie Bayhawks defeats Lakeland Magic 96-90
The final score is not indicative of how the game developed through four quarters. The Magic were down by 12 going into the second half and at one point were down by 18. The Magic’s dynamic stretch center Byron Mullens and point guard Troy Caupain tried to carry the team by themselves, but it was not enough. They seemed outmatched by the super talented point guards Josh Magette and John Gillon of the Bayhawks in both scoring and defense.
- Raptors 905 defeats Westchester Knicks 92-80
The Raptors 905 seem determined to defend their G-League title, as they pull through in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Lorenzo Brown provided the spark that the Raptors needed once again with 18 points, along with guard Malachi Richardson who scored 14 points off the bench. The primary reason that the Westchester Knicks lost this game is because they could not score on the Raptors suffocating defense in the fourth quarter, leading to two of their starters being scoreless for the entire game.
- Erie Bayhawks defeats Fort Wayne Mad Ants 119-116
This was a back and forth game of serious offensive bursts from both teams. Mad Ants’ forward Dequan Jones had a game high of 29 points and lead the team in rebounds at 11. Both Edmund Sumner and Ben Moore contributed 18 points each off of the bench. However, the Bayhawks forward Jeremy Evans could not be stopped. He scored 24 points on 10-14 shooting from the field and grabbed 7 rebounds. Josh Magette also stepped up again as a scoring threat with 21 points. Both teams bench play was stellar, but the standout by far was Andrew White III who scored 26 points, including 5 three pointers.
- Raptors 905 defeats Erie Bayhawks 118-106
The Raptors will again represent the East in the Finals after shutting down the Bayhawks throughout the game. The backcourt of Lorenzo Brown and Aaron Best scored a combined 51 of the teams total points alone, with Shevon Thompson scoring 18 points coming off the bench. As for the Bayhawks, Josh Magette tried to will the team through with 18 points and 12 assists, as well as John Dillion finally coming alive offensively with 22 points, but it was not enough.
- Rio Grande Valley Vipers defeats Texas Legends 107-100
The Valley Vipers had such a balanced attack against the Legends defensive schemes. There were six Valley Viper players who scored in double figures, with point guard Monte Morris having the team high of 19 points. Their best shooter RJ Hunter had a rough night from three point range, but still scored 18 points and 3 steals. Another rising star from this game was Texas Legends forward Jameel Warney with game highs in points (28) and rebounds (14) who could not quite carry them all the way.
- South Bay Lakers defeats Oklahoma City Blue 125-105
South Bay poured in the points in this game, with four players on their roster scoring 20 points or more. Scott Machado was definitely the star of the game with 27 points and 11 assists, while having some solid help from Gary Payton II and Andre Ingram. OKC was dominated in the first half, and could not seem to fight back in the second half despite having six players scoring in double figures.
- Austin Spurs defeats Rio Grande Valley Vipers 117-91
Austin had the Valley Vipers number throughout the entire game, particularly in the second quarter, when Darrick White and Matt Costello got their groove going on offense. RJ Hunter of the Valley Vipers struggled with his shot despite still scoring 20 points. Monte Morris had a good game with 20 points at 8-13 from the field, but the rest of the team did not quite show up.
- South Bay Lakers defeats Reno Bighorns 126-109
South Bay lit up the scoreboard again against the Bighorns, and they finished them off decisively. Gary Payton II has shown why he is one of the hottest prospects in the league all season, and with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, he did not disappoint. Thomas Bryant, the center for South Bay, scored the game high of 33 points out of nowhere. There was not a plan to stop him, and it ended up deciding the outcome.
- Austin Spurs defeats South Bay Lakers 104-93
Probably the biggest upset in the playoffs this year. I expected South Bay to go all the way to the Finals with their offensive firepower, but Austin played the best defense that South Bay had seen all year. Austin’s Matt Costello set the G-League postseason record in blocks with 11, and Derrick White got everyone’s attention when he finished the game with 35 points. As for South Bay, Gary Payton II led the team with 28 points, along with Alex Caruso’s 20 points. However, Thomas Bryant was defended very well in this matchup as he only scored 10 points, and he disappeared down the stretch.
The NBA G-League Finals will be between the Raptors 905 and Austin Spurs in a Best-of-Three series starting on April 8th.
By Joshua Hamer