Skyforce Emphatically Take Title through Defensive Domination
The Sioux Falls Skyforce are the NBA Development League Champions after stifling the Los Angeles D-Fenders in a 91-63 Game 3 win Wednesday night.
With the win, Sioux Falls completed the title run which was preceded by a record-setting 40 regular season victories. In the clincher, the Skyforce never trailed and held Los Angeles to under 30 percent shooting.
In the previous two games, the D-Fenders got good starts forcing Sioux Falls to rally. The reverse was true in Game 3 as the ‘Force established a 10-point lead early and kept L.A. at arm’s length through much of the first half.
After intermission, the cumulative effect of heavy loads carried by too few players for the D-Fenders exacted their toll. Each Los Angeles starter played at least 34 minutes per game through the first two contests with most logging at least 40 minutes in each. Only Rodney McGruder played over 40 minutes in both games prior to the decider for Sioux Falls.
The margin was only seven points at half. However the ‘Force manufactured a 17-5 stretch to tip the balance in their favor in the third quarter essentially making the final stanza a coronation for the kings of the D-League.
From an execution standpoint Coach Dan Craig felt from tipoff to final whistle the team followed the prescribed formula.
“We had a very simplistic game plan offensively we saw some things that we could expose. Defensively we really tried to get into them. I thought the guys did a tremendous job sticking to our game plan. We wanted them playing inside the three-point line and taking contested twos. For the most part for all 48 minutes we did that.”
As the leader of the team Craig credits the players for committing to the program which helped make the title run possible.
“In the D-League there’s a lot of fluctuations you have people coming and going and for (our players) to stay the course and just buy in to being selfless for each other and trying to win a championship is one of the things I’m most proud of.”
Skyforce forward Jarnell Stokes was named MVP of the Finals by racking up 25 points and 12 rebounds to put an exclamation point on a dominating season. Other support came from McGruder’s 13 points, Greg Whittington’s 12 tallies and DeAndre Liggins who posted 11 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Bubu Palo who finished with 9 points and a season-high 8 rebounds spoke of the motivating factor of clinching at home.
“It was unbelievable. We’ve been working all year to get home court advantage. To be in front of them really energized us on a back-to-back against a tough team.”
The D-Fenders were paced by guard Josh Magette’s 21 points. Vander Blue who had been so masterful throughout the playoffs struggled mightily on 5 of 22 shooting to finish with 15 points.
It is the third championship in franchise history. Sioux Falls claimed CBA titles in 1996 and 2005.