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Previewing the Spurs Potential Playoff Opponents

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(Editor’s note: This post is by our newest writer, Firman Iksan. Please welcome him to the team as he previews what the Austin Spurs should be expecting come playoff time.)

With the NBA D-League regular season coming to an end and the Austin Spurs already clinching the Southwest Division title with one game to go, this looks like a good time to see who the Austin Spurs will play and how they will fare against their potential opponent in the first round. Before we go through the preview, there is a new format to the NBA D-League playoff (courtesy of dleague.nba.com):
The NBA D-League Playoffs will be three rounds, each consisting of a best-of-three series

• The top individual team in each of the four divisions (Atlantic, Central, Southwest and West) on the basis of regular season record will automatically qualify for the NBA D-League Playoffs as the “Division Winners”

• In addition, the top two teams in each Conference on the basis of regular season record regardless of division, other than the Division Winners, will also qualify for the NBA D-League Playoffs as the “Wildcard Teams”

• In the First Round, the Wildcard Teams host the first game, and the Division Winners host the second game and, if necessary, the third game

• In the Second Round and the Third Round, the Team with the lesser regular season record hosts the first game and the Team with the better regular season record hosts the second game and, if necessary, the third game

First Round
Opponents for the First Round games will be determined, as follows:
• Division Winner in the Eastern Conference with the best regular season record versus Wildcard Team in the Eastern Conference with the worst regular season record (Game 1)
• Division Winner in the Eastern Conference with the second-best regular season record versus Wildcard Team in the Eastern Conference with the second-worst regular season record (Game 2)
• Division Winner in the Western Conference with the best regular season versus Wildcard Team in the Western Conference with the worst regular season record (Game 3)
• Division Winner in the Western Conference with the second-best regular season record versus Wildcard Team in the Western Conference with the second-worst regular season record (Game 4)

With the new format the Austin Spurs will play either the Bakersfield Jam or the Santa Cruz Warriors (*at the time of this post* both are tied at 34-14 with 2 games to go and Bakersfield Jam currently hold the tie-breaker) but it is of note that the Bakersfield Jam and Santa Cruz Warriors have better overall records than the Spurs and both split the season series 2-2 with Austin. So, it seems there’s no opponent that Austin Spurs would rather have one way or another. Let’s preview them one by one with the possible matchup:

#2 Austin Spurs VS #3 Bakersfield Jam
Season series: 2-2

Austin Spurs wins in season series:
21st of March, 2015: Austin Spurs (115) VS Bakersfield Jam (95)
Jarell Eddie scored a season high 34 points, courtesy of a 9-11 shooting night (not to mention 8-9 from 3pt land) and the Austin Spurs as a team shot 54.3% from the field and 61.3% from three compared to 42.9% from the field and 26.3% from three for Bakersfield.

9th January, 2015 at Bakersfield: Austin Spurs (119) VS Bakersfield Jam (105)
Jonathan Simmons exploded for 30 points, JaMychal Green scored 28 and grabbed 10 rebounds and Bryce Cotton scored 23 and dished out 7 assists. Big second and fourth quarters for Austin Spurs (26-20) and (42-33) ensure the victory.

Austin Spurs losses in season series:
8th January, 2015 at Bakersfield: Austin Spurs (102) VS Bakersfield Jam (103)
The Spurs led 102-96 with 2:31 left in the game and blew the lead in the next 55 seconds. Renaldo Major stole the ball from Austin in the last seconds which lead to Joe Jackson game-winning free throws.

7th March, 2015: Austin Spurs (94) VS Bakersfield Jam (116)
Jerel McNeal scored a season high 40 points and the Bakersfield Jam shot a season-high 60.3% from the field.

Well, from the regular season series, it looks like a wash for Austin Spurs and Bakersfield Jam. They split the record at 2-2, split homecourt at 1-1 and one of those two wins for each team occurred with someone having a season high in points. One interesting case though: There will be no JaMychal Green and Bryce Cotton for Austin Spurs, and Kyle Anderson will have to play a lot better than the one game he played in this season series where he went for 11 points, five rebounds and five assists to lead the Austin Spurs versus the Bakersfield Jam. This one has the looks to be a fun matchup where it’ll take all three games.

#2 Austin Spurs VS #3 Santa Cruz Warriors
Season series: 2-2

Austin Spurs wins in season series:
23rd November, 2014: Austin Spurs (110) VS Santa Cruz Warriors (105)
Erik Murphy goes for 3-3 in the 4th and Kyle Anderson & Jamychal Green combines for 45 points and 25 rebounds to pace Austin to win.

12th December, 2014 at Santa Cruz: Austin Spurs (112) VS Santa Cruz Warriors (93)
Austin outshot Santa Cruz from the field (52% to 39.8%) and out-rebounded them (55 to 31) which is usually a good recipe to win the game. Jamychal Green paced Austin with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Austin Spurs losses in season series:
24th February, 2015 at Santa Cruz: Austin Spurs (94) VS Santa Cruz Warriors (109)
James Michael Mcadoo and Elliot Williams combine for 59 points on combined 25-36 shooting while Kyle Anderson had an off-night with just 5-16 shooting.

13th March, 2015: Austin Spurs (94) VS Santa Cruz Warriors (104)
Santa Cruz recorded their new franchise-high winning streak with 11, but the final score didn’t tell the whole story (eight lead changes, 10 tied and both teams had a double-digit lead at one point) while Kyle Anderson had a good night with 26-6-7.

While it’s kinda alarming that the Austin Spurs have yet to win in 2015 against this Santa Cruz team, Kyle Anderson seems to play better against Santa Cruz than Bakersfield. I do think this will not be an easy series. This has the looks to go to Game 3 too, but all in all, the Austin Spurs will go as far as Kyle Anderson can take them, but the Spurs need better shooting from the whole team. So this one (at least for me) looks like the matchup Austin Spurs would prefer a little bit more.

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