The message served by Miami with the assignment of Justin Hamilton to the Sioux Falls Skyforce this weekend:  “We’re here to win.”  

The Miami Heat announced that center Justin Hamilton will join the Sioux Falls Skyforce for their NBA Development League home games Friday and Saturday against the Idaho Stampede. Following Saturday night’s game, he will re-join the Heat in Miami for their contest against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Heading into the final stages of the season, these two games Friday and Saturday night at the Sanford Pentagon are extremely important for both teams.  Call it a modified version of  “The Knockout Game” if you please.

If the two teams split their weekend set, the advantage settles with Sioux Falls.  The schedule is slightly more favorable for the Skyforce facing teams with losing records.  Two of them are at Maine followed by home dates against Texas and Tulsa.  Idaho plays 4 of their last 6 games against playoff contenders as Bakersfield comes to Boise then two more at home against Reno then road contests at Iowa, Rio Grande Valley and Texas.

Idaho is 23-19 after two huge wins over Reno at home this past weekend.  For all intents and purposes the Stampede are in must-win mode as they are the current number 9 team in the NBADL standings.  Sioux Falls also needs victories as the number 8 team in the standings with a 25-19 mark so far.  A sweep for either team doesn’t put their fate in concrete either, but Idaho has the onus mostly on them in the playoff quest.

Let’s also consider that Portland can make a play as well.  The Stampede are affiliated with the Trail Blazers who assigned guard Allen Crabbe last week then recalled him on Sunday.  Guard C.J. McCollum was also assigned for a couple of games in January.

Nonetheless, Idaho is pretty good without the added benefit of NBA assignees.  Three of the top fifteen and two of the top four players on the NBADL Prospect Watch are on the Stampede roster in Kevin Murphy (1), Vander Blue (4) and Dee Bost (15).  Sioux Falls sports the recent addition of Craig Smith (20) and the return of DeAndre Liggins who was among the top 10 prospects before his call-up to the Heat.  Plus Henry Walker and Anthony Mason, Jr. have also been putting some stellar performances together.

This weekend’s games could be one of the few match ups that could outrun the hype.