D-League Playoffs Preview

D-League Playoffs Preview
Apr 14, 2009, 12:19 am
The D-League playoffs start Tuesday and with it, the experimental new rule that the top seeds get to pick their opponent. The Colorado 14ers had the league’s best record so they were allowed to pick their opponent from the bottom four playoff teams – Idaho, Erie, Dakota and Bakersfield. The second seeded Utah Flash were then allowed to choose their opponent. The rosters fluctuate so much in the D-League that teams’ win-loss record is not the best way to determine who should face off in the playoffs. Only time will tell if this is a good idea or not.

Here is a rundown of the four first round match-ups. The first two rounds are single elimination with the finals being a best of three series.

The games will be streamed on the web for free on the D-League's official site.

COLORADO 14ers (34-16) vs ERIE Bayhawks (27-23)
Colorado won the season series 2-0 by an average margin of 10. Colorado selected 7th seed Erie over 8th seed Bakersfield

Colorado (Home - .800, Road - .560, vs Playoff Teams .632)

The 14ers are the team to beat. Averaging 119 points per game, they are a throwback to the Nuggets of the 1980's who tried to run opponents out of their high altitude home court. Three NBA veterans, Eddie Gill, Billy Thomas and Josh Davis lead the well-balanced attack. Coming off the bench for Colorado are two players who would start on most other teams - point guard John Lucas and wing Sonny Weems who is on assignment from the Nuggets. With their up-tempo style of play, it is no surprise that they led the league in many categories including rebounds, assists, fouls, blocks, steals and turnovers.

Eddie Gill
Dominique Coleman
Billy Thomas
Josh Davis
Joe Dabbert

Erie (Home - .640, Road - .440, vs Playoff Teams .500)

In contrast to Colorado, Erie boasted the league's top defense, allowing just 95.7 points per game. Unfortunately, they also scored the fewest points of any team, with 97.1 points per game. Consistency has been a key for the Bayhawks, as 4 of their 5 opening day starters played the entire season. The expansion franchise was led by Erik Daniels (21.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg) who was the only player to finish in the top seven in scoring and rebounding this season in the D-League.

Tony Bethel
Maureece Rice
Jackie Manuel
Ivan Harris
Erik Daniels


UTAH Flash (32-18) vs BAKERSFIELD Jam (26-24)
Utah won the last 4 meetings to win the season series 4-2. Utah selected 8th seed Bakersfield

Utah (Home - .680, Road - .600, vs Playoff Teams .455)

The Flash have the most assigned players of any team in the playoffs and have a legitimate chance at challenging Colorado for the title. They are led by their three assigned players - J.R. Giddens (Celtics), Morris Almond (Jazz) and Kosta Koufos (Jazz) - who contribute 57.8 points and 18.6 rebounds per game. Almond has missed the past two games with a sprained back, but should be ready to play on Wednesday.

Kevin Kruger
Morris Almond
J.R. Giddens
Ronald Dupree
Kosta Koufos

Bakersfield (Home - .640, Road - .400, vs Playoff Teams .455)

The Jam limp into the playoffs having won just once in their past 6 games. Coinciding with their slide has been the recent poor performance of Derrick Byars who is 4-for-23 in his past two games. He has also lost his touch from behind the arc going 5-for-38 (.132) in his past 10 games. For the Jam to win, Byars needs to play like he did in February when he averaged 23.1 points per game and shot 50% (26-for-52) from downtown.

Mateen Cleaves
Trey Johnson
Derrick Byars
Justin Reed
Nick Lewis


IOWA Energy (28-22) vs DAKOTA Wizards (27-23)
Iowa won the season series 5-2. 3rd seeded Iowa selected 6th seeded Dakota

Iowa (Home - .680, Road - .440, vs Playoff Teams .500)

When Cartier Martin was called up to the Bobcats, Iowa was 16-6; since then they have gone 12-16. Curtis Stinson and Othyus Jeffers have carried most of the load for the Energy recently. Stinson averaged 22.7 points, 11.7 assists and 7.2 rebounds in April, and Jeffers was one of just two players to rank in the top ten in scoring and rebounding this season. Courtney Sims' call-up to the Knicks has left a big hole in the middle for Iowa, who have yet to find a dependable replacement.

Curtis Stinson
Othyus Jeffers
Denham Brown
Demetris Nichols
John Edwards

Dakota (Home - .640, Road - .440, vs Playoff Teams .458)

This matchup will be the 8th time Dakota and Iowa square off this season. Dakota has yet to win at Iowa, including a 10-point loss last Friday when the division title was on the line. Former NBA players Richard Hendrix and Blake Ahearn form the inside-outside punch for the Wizards. Hendrix was second in the D-League with 11.4 rebounds per game and 4th in the league with 1.5 blocks per game. Ahearn was 6th in scoring, shooting 43% from the 3-point line and a league-leading 95.5% from the free throw line.

Maurice Baker
Blake Ahearn
Renaldo Major
David Monds
Richard Hendrix


AUSTIN Toros (32-18) vs IDAHO Stampede (31-19)
Idaho won the season series 2-0 by an average margin of 7.

Austin (Home - .680, Road - .600, vs Playoff Teams .421)

In a rematch of last season's finals, Austin and Idaho clash in a one game playoff on Wednesday. The Toros will lean heavily on Malik Hairston, who had back to back 40+ games to end the season. Hairston spent most of the year with the Spurs, but was waived when they signed Marcus Williams, also of Austin. Dwayne Jones was the league's leading rebounder this season and has been a beast in April, averaging 21.3 points and 15.8 rebounds in six games. The Toros also have Ian Mahinmi, who has just come back following ankle surgery, but he has yet to play.

Carldell Johnson
Stanley Burrell
Malik Hairston
Eric Dawson
Dwayne Jones

Idaho (Home - .800, Road - .440, vs Playoff Teams .591)

Idaho is the league's best defensive team, allowing their opponents to shoot just .439 from the field. They also led the league in rebounding percentage and had the D-League's Defensive Player Of The Year, Brent Petway. Offensively, they are led by Lance Allred, who is starting to play like he did last year when he finished the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Allred's averaged 19.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in his last ten games to fill the scoring void created when Luke Jackson went down with an ankle injury. This team definitely misses the presence of Coby Karl, though—he left the team for Spain after the Showcase.

Kevin Burleson
Roberto Bergersen
Brent Petway
Jason Ellis
Lance Allred

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