With the news that the NBA Development League will broadcast D-League playoff games on ESPN, the Austin Spurs are getting ready for their quest at a second championship. A quest that begins on Tuesday night versus the Bakersfield Jam.
Austin and Bakersfield split their four regular season meetings 2-2, but as our own Firman Iksan wrote about, there isn’t much to tell us how this series is going to go from those games. The Austin Spurs roster is nowhere near the same as it was in January during the Spurs-Jam back-to-back which both teams split. And in the two games these teams played in March? Bakersfield won one by 22, thanks to a season high 40-points from Jerel McNeal (who is currently on the Phoenix Suns roster) and the Austin Spurs won the other by 20 with help from Jarell Eddie, who had just returned from the Atlanta Hawks by scoring 34 points.
So what does this all mean for this series? Well as long as no one named Jarell or Jerel catches fire, maybe these games will be close. But there’s no doubt the excitement and entertainment will be there.
According to the D-League’s website, the Bakersfield Jam (34-16) are excellent under pressure. In clutch situations (last 5 minutes, +/- 5 points), the Jam outscored opponents by a league-best 25.7 points per 100 possessions. They lead the league in forcing turnovers (18.8 per 100 possessions) and point off turnovers (22.5 per 100 possessions).
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the Spurs and their offensive juggernaut status. Also via DLeague.com, the Spurs rank second among playoff teams in offensive rating (110.2 points per 100 possessions) while leading the league in three-point shooting percentage (39%).
Though the cliché of basketball being a team game is always true, the difference in this series might come down to individual talent. The Spurs loaded roster is full of both NBA-ready players or experienced NBA veterans. And that’s after the loss of Bryce Cotton and JaMychal Green. Look for San Antonio Spurs rookie Kyle Anderson to lead the show, while Orlando Johnson and Jarell Eddie continue their hot shooting ways. Those three combine for almost half of the Spurs entire points per game.
Meanwhile, Bakersfield will rely on former McDonald’s All-American point guard, Joe Jackson and shooting guard Alec Brown.
Who: Austin Spurs (32-18) @ Bakersfield Jam (34-16)
When: Game 1 – Tuesday, April 7th, 2015. 8:30 PM CST
Where: Dignity Health Event Center – Bakersfield, CA and also on ESPNU