Tip: 9:00 p.m., Reno Events Center, Reno, NV
Record: 23-14, first in West Division
Off. efficiency: 105.1 points per 100 possessions, 9th
Def. efficiency: 103.3, 6th
Net rating: +1.8, 7th
Pace: 99.3 possessions per game, 15th
Effective FG pct: 52.0, 4th
Turnover pct: 18.8, 15th
Off. rebound pct: 31.2, 4th
FTA rate: .345, 3rd
Opp. effective FG pct: 50.7, 7th
Opp. turnover pct: 18.4, 3rd
Def. rebound rate 70.8, 12th
Opp. FTA rate: .320, 11th
Points: K.C. Rivers, 17.0
Rebounds: Mo Charlo, 7.9
Assists: Sundiata Gaines, 4.6
Blocks: Mickell Gladness, 2.2
Steals: Charlo, 1.5
Prior to Jan. 1, the Reno Bighorns were 7-7, stuck in the uncomfortable malaise of the D-League. Since, they’ve won 16 of their last 23 games, putting them within two games of the top seed in the D-League playoffs.
In this stretch, Reno has been the best team in the D-League by any objective measure. Winning percentage? Yup, they are first with 69.6 percent in this span. Net rating? Yup, they are first with +6.3. Reno is just a few ticks behind the Sioux Falls Skyforce in defensive rating, otherwise they’d be leading in that facet as well. Reno has built a healthy lead in the playoffs, primarily by beating down the non-playoff teams. Of the nine games against current playoff teams in this stretch, Reno won four. They have completely demolished the lower rung teams of the D-League, though; those poor teams lost 14 of 16 matchups against Reno.
Where they excel
Creating turnovers. Reno creates a turnover on 18.8 percent of their opponents possessions, third in the D-League, and they score 22 points per 100 possessions off these turnovers. Turnovers typically create transition possessions and transition possessions are typically more efficient than half-court possessions; Reno is a top five team in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate and offensive rebounding rate because transition opportunities engender plenty of good chances to score.
Where they struggle
Fouling. Reno has improved a tad since Jan. 1, but they still foul way too often, at least for a respectable defense. They’ve found a healthy middle ground apparently, and they still are sixth in points allowed per possession, despite a high foul rate. But Reno’s defense is still very contingent on turnover creation, and along with being poor on the defensive glass, Reno’s defense could fail miserably against the better teams in the D-League.
Player to watch
Sundiata Gaines. He has some NBA experience in his pocket, though he’s 27, and he doesn’t have much time to find a career in the NBA before the wheels fall off athletically.
Stats: NBA D-League/Stats