Tip: 7:30 p.m., Cedar Park Center
Record: 19-13, third in Central Division
Off. efficiency: 100.1 points per 100 possessions, 16th
Def. efficiency: 97.1, 1st
Net rating: +3.0, 5th
Pace: 101.4 possessions per game, 11th
Effective FG pct: 48.8, 15th
Turnover pct: 16.7, 8th
Off. rebound pct: 25.7, 13th
FTA rate: .301, 10th
Opp. effective FG pct: 48.7, 2nd
Opp. turnover pct: 20.5, 2nd
Def. rebound rate 71.4, 9th
Opp. FTA rate: .323, 12th
Points: Justin Hamilton, 19.3
Rebounds: Hamilton, 9.3
Assists: Larry Drew, 6.1
Blocks: Hamilton, 2.0
Steals: DeAndre Liggins, 2.6
The Sioux Falls Skyforce are 19-13 this season, with a healthy two game edge over the eight seed. They have the stingiest defense in the D-League, allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions, but they’ve been just 5-5 in their last 10 games. The defense has slipped a couple of points — to a still very stingy 99.6 — and the offense, a liability, has also slipped. In their last 10 games, they’ve played four games against top-five offensive teams, including three matchups with the third-ranked Iowa Energy — the Skyforce gave up 307 points in the three games and 122 to the second-ranked Los Angeles D-Fenders. This is the first matchup between the Skyforce and Austin Toros this season. The Toros are 13-18 and 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Where they excel
The Skyforce defense is an opportunistic bunch, led by DeAndre Liggins, the D-League’s premier pickpocket. Liggins averages 2.6 steals, allowing the Skyforce to initiate their transition offense — 21 percent of their points have been scored off turnovers this season, the second-highest percentage in the D-League. Sioux Falls is a very mediocre offense otherwise, and creating transition opportunities, typically more efficient than traditional half-court possessions, is a necessity. They just need some extra oomph to support their top-ranked defense.
Where they struggle
Getting to the rim. Sioux Falls rarely creates shots in the restricted in the area — 29.3 attempts per game, fifth fewest — and their FG% is the worst in the D-League. The Skyforce generate a fair amount of 3-pointers (27.5), but their inability to finish at the rim is the cause for their other offensive pitfalls, namely free throws. Sioux Falls is 10th in free throw rate.
Player to watch
Justin Hamilton. He leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks. He seems pretty important.
Stats: NBA D-League/Stats