Sunday, March 01, 2015
2015 Playoff Preview: Halifax vs Moncton
With the records reset to 0-0, the Moncton Miracles look to take on the hottest team in the NBL-C; the Halifax Rainmen in the first round of the Atlantic Division playoffs. Halifax is coming off a franchise tying 10 game winning streak, and couldn't be more prepared for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Moncton has limped its way into the playoffs, dropping 8 of their last 10 games. Regular season record aside, this is the playoffs and everyone steps up this time of year, so don't expect Moncton to just roll over for the Rainmen. Despite what their 8-24 record says, Moncon has been a scrappy team that has given teams like Halifax and the Island Storm runs for their money. After a back and forth first half of their season, Halifax made key player moves that gave the team a new look and completely changed their competitive edge. Moncton on the other hand made only a few player moves and failed to ever put together momentum at any point in their season.
Halifax has possibly the biggest and most talented front-court in the league. Boasting players like MVP candidate Kevin Young (6'9), and the leagues tallest player in Liam McMorrow (7'2). The Rainmen will have a number of talented front court players to through at Moncton. Zach Atkinson and Stanley Robinson will have their hands full, and having a 6'11 center in Shamus Ferguson certainly helps against the size of Halifax' front court. While giving up size, the Moncton front court contains some scrappy forwards who are more than capable of playing bigger than their size and have the potential to bother the very physical Halifax bigs. The newest member of the Miracles, Noafall Folahan, defensive prowess will be put to the test against the waves if Rainmen forwards. The Rainmen definitely have the advantage in this category as they can throw any number of talented post players at the Miracles to tire them out.
Spikes, Watson, Cayole and other offer the deepest front court in the NBL-C. It's just way to much for Moncton to handle.
Like their front court, the Miracles boast a lighting fast and scrappy, defensive guards. Shawn Vanzant and DaQuan Brooks are quick guards that push the pace at blistering speeds and pester the opposing guards on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, the Miracles back court is very thin after Vanzant and Brooks. While talented, they lack a true play maker on the team which kills them when they are forced to play a a slower, half court offense. Moncton's biggest advantage in this category may be Trayvon Lathan, a multi-talented wing, who can play both inside and outside. Two of the best shooters in the league face off between Halifax' Seiya Ando and Moncton's Chris Matthews. Matthews has the advantage as a pure shooter, but Ando has the ability to run an offense or take on the role as shooter. While Moncton lacks a true play-maker, Halifax has possibly the leagues best play-maker in point guard Clifford Clinkscales. Coming off the bench, the former all-star has no trouble running and type of offense and can get at it on the defensive end. The category is close, but again the depth of Halifax will prove too much for the Moncton guards.
Throw in off guards like Fisher and Haywood just can't lose. Halifax is deep in the back court as well as the front court.
Moncton Miracles: The biggest x factor for the Miracles is a former Rainmen. Chris Matthews' dead eye shooting could prove to be what helps Moncton push Halifax to their limit. The #lethalshooter is coming off eye surgery and is being to look like his former self. His 6.7 points per game may not look like much but Matthews is more than capable for lighting up the stat sheet for Moncton. His rythem is back, which he proved in the Miracles last regular season game against Missisauga, which was a win.
Halifax Rainmen: Again, Halifax' biggest x factor is their depth. Both their front and back courts have a depth that Moncton just cannot match. They have the tallest front court in the league, and their second unit of bigs are taller than most teams starting forwards. Halifax features several players that are potential award winners as well as all-stars, not only in their starting line up, a number of them are reserves as well. Halifax is able to to send waves of players at teams and will continue this against a Miracles squad that lacks depth. At times the Rainmen are 2 or three players deep at every position and that's why they are the Atlantic Division champions this year.
Halifax Rainmen: The Rainmen are winners out east. They've been to the finals and are very capable of returning there. Halifax has proven season after season that they can win in the playoffs despite any difficulties in the regular season. Aside from their pedigree, Halifax is hot right now and has all the confidence in the world. Couple these with the most talented roster they've ever had.
Moncton Miracles: They may lack the talent and winning history that Halifax has but they are a never say die type of team. Their record may not show it but Moncton has a fire that some teams lack. One of the biggest issues facing the team is they are currently run and operated by the league and suffers financially. This may factor in negatively for the Moncton in the long term.
Advantage: Halifax Rainmen
Hands down Halifax. I said Moncton is capable of an upset but it's very unlikely. Mentioned several times is the depth of Halifax, it's just to much for Moncton and they won't be able to handle it. Some games will be close, Moncton may even be able to win one at home, but Halifax will take the series.
Halifax wins series 3-1