D-League Playoff Picture Hazy As Final Weeks Approach
February 27, 2014 arrives with 38 days remaining in the NBA D-League season. A multitude of moves will transpire between call-ups to the NBA and trades that will happen before the March 7 deadline for D-League deals.
There are a few teams that are angling for a better 2014-15 campaign, but the majority of squads are still in the hunt for a berth in the NBADL playoffs. Nine teams currently sport winning records, so you could forget the rest and say, “Wait until next year.” It appears the divide between the top and bottom looks pretty sharp. Previously the fight for playoff contention would involve 10-12 teams across the league.
Except there is one team from the bottom of the ranks now commanding respect and nudging its way into being that 10th team. The Tulsa 66ers were a team in shambles early in the year. When they visited the Sanford Pentagon in early December, their confidence was shaky in a blowout loss on the first night of a back-to-back against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The 66ers presented themselves well in a six point loss the following night, but were 1-9 leaving town and eventually hit bottom at 2-13.
Since then, Tulsa played to a 7-6 record in January to get a feel for things and have been the league’s best in February storming to a 7-2 record this month. Scoffers would look to their current record of 16-20 and write them off, but it’s not exactly been cupcake city this month. The two losses were both to the Iowa Energy who posts the second best record in the league. The 66ers beat the Skyforce who have been solid all year and top seed Rio Grande Valley (twice) by wide margins during this month and currently ride a four-game win streak.
Speaking specifically about the Skyforce and playoff chances, what looked like a lock not long ago is currently tenuous. Going 8-7 or 7-8 over their final 15 games would presumably be enough. A peek at the schedule would offer some hope of capturing that many wins. Consider that DeAndre Liggins could stick with the Miami Heat and Justin Hamilton could get an NBA look also. Without those two stalwarts, the urge to grab the antacid may soon begin. We may even pine for the return of Quincy Douby from the Shanghai Sharks who are in a playoff fight of their own in the Chinese Baskeball League.
Eight teams in the NBADL are bunched together with 19-22 wins among them. At this point two straight wins or losses can turn a team’s fortunes upside down. Enjoy the ride as it turns wild in March.