Sioux Falls Skyforce Playoff Potential Still High Though Subject to Change (UPDATE)
Eight teams fighting over four places at the NBADL Western Conference playoff table. Each passing day will tell us which teams are best positioned for attending the feast.
Just getting to the 2017 D-League Playoffs will be one of the toughest challenges in recent memory. As the league expands, more wins than ever before will be needed to qualify especially in the stacked Western Conference.
The following formula may be less than scientific. However, today’s muddy water will be crystal clear on April 1.
Los Angeles D-Fenders
Current record: 30-13
Remaining Schedule Synopsis: Seven games against four possible playoff teams. Three are at home, four on the road.
Potential: With a sizable lead over Santa Cruz and needing only to clinch the division title, L.A. is a lock to qualify. Potentially, the D-Fenders could win just the two head-to-head games against the Sea Dubs and still make it.
Oklahoma City Blue
Current record: 30-15
Remaining Schedule Synopsis: Five games against four possible playoff teams. Three at home, two are on the road.
Potential: The slate is chock full of good teams left to play. Nonetheless Oklahoma City has already piled up enough wins that only something extraordinary would lock out the Blue. Another win over RGV on March 24 would essentially lock up the division crown.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Current record: 27-16
Remaining Schedule Synopsis: Sevin games against five possible playoff teams. Six are at home, one on the road.
Potential: A clutch win over Oklahoma City slides the door open a crack toward a possible division title. Strength of schedule is still a concern especially the clash with Santa Cruz on March 21 as a huge marker for both teams. It will be part of a brutal stretch of six games in ten days.
Sioux Falls Skyforce
Current record: 26-19
Remaining schedule synopsis: Five games against four possible playoff teams. Three are at home, two on the road.
Potential: They no longer control their own destiny. After being up 24 on the Suns including 19 in the fourth quarter then falling in Prescott Valley was a tough blow. Reno has now become the ultimate spoiler by knocking off the D-Fenders, Fort Wayne and Sioux Falls in succession.
Santa Cruz Warriors
Current record: 25-18
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against five possible playoff teams. Three are at home, four on the road.
Potential: To make the playoffs Santa Cruz begins their meat-grinding portion of the schedule with the Sea Dubs playing 6 games in 11 days. Four of those six opponents may still have something at stake on game night. If Santa Cruz wins all seven they could possibly get to number three with an outside shot at a division title.
Current record: 22-20
Remaining schedule synopsis: Eight games against seven possible playoff teams. One is at home, seven on the road.
Potential: Everything pretty much hinges on the next two games at Santa Cruz on March 17 and 18. Texas needs to be 24-20 with two wins over the Warriors to have a beggar’s chance. Then, that may not be enough to make the leap because Sioux Falls has the tie-breaker advantage. Big success outside the Lone Star State will be required.
Northern Arizona Suns
Current record: 21-22
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against five possible playoff teams. Two are at home, five on the road.
Potential: A big comeback win over Sioux Falls keeps them alive. The two games at RGV are must-wins. Truthfully they all are, but those two especially. The loss to Fort Wayne could be a back-breaker.
Current record: 19-23
Potential: Austin is still eligible and showed fantastic resilience just to stay in the hunt until now. Setbacks against Canton and Raptors 905 have all but scuttled any chances of making it.
What about the Eastern Conference? Glad you asked. The rundown contains fewer teams, but also has loads of intrigue.
Current record: 32-11
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against two possible playoff teams. Two are at home, five on the road.
Potential: Raptors 905 have officially clinched their first playoff berth in their second year of existence. As evidence of their record-setting crowd for the win over Austin which was a prelude to the Dallas Mavericks/Toronto Raptors game, support for the farm team is at a fever pitch. Next goal is to secure the division title.
Maine Red Claws
Current record: 26-17
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against two possible playoff teams. Four are at home, three on the road.
Potential: Being a division leader and no head-to-head meetings left with their closest division rival, Maine is in relatively good position. Unless Delaware goes on a hot streak and the Red Claws fall off the table, a top-two seed will be in hand.
Current record: 27-18
Remaining schedule synopsis: Five games against three possible playoff teams. One is at home, four on the road.
Potential: Canton is in a dogfight for the third seed with Fort Wayne. Those four road games to end the season don't loom so large after two big victories against RGV and Austin. Their eight-game win streak was snapped by Greensboro but are still pretty solid.
Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Current Record: 25-18
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against four possible playoff teams. Five are at home, three on the road.
Potential: After going 2-2 on their western road swing, The Mad Ants look pretty solid. To advance to the postseason, Fort Wayne will have earned their stripes as their closing stretch features a heavy load of 10 games over 19 days.
Current record: 22-20
Remaining schedule synopsis: Eight games against two possible playoff teams. Three are at home, five on the road.
Potential: In capturing the franchise’s first playoff slot, the Sevens metaphorically just need to run faster than the bear. The head-to-head scrum at Fort Wayne on March 18 will be huge. One team will be three days clear of a four-game western swing and the other will be fresh off hosting Salt Lake City the night before.
Grand Rapids Drive
Current record: 21-22
Remaining schedule synopsis: Seven games against five possible playoff teams. Four are at home, three on the road.
Potential: Losing to Erie on Saturday was about as damaging as you could get. The upcoming home and home against Fort Wayne are now a must plus at least two of three leading up to that set if they intend to bring playoff basketball back to Grand Rapids. According to the website funwhileitlasted.com, the CBA team dubbed the Hoops lost in two championship series appearances in 1993 and 2003.