Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 NBLC Finals Preview

Halifax (1) vs. London (1)

Season Series: Tied 1-1
Last Series: London over Windsor 4-2, Halifax over Saint John 4-0
Players To Watch: Akeem Wright, Justin Johnson
Prediction: Halifax Wins 4-1

The 2016 NBLC Finals will feature the two teams that looked destined to advance from their respective divisions all season. Both the Halifax Hurricanes and London Lightning have wreaked havoc through the regular season, eventually splitting their season series 1-1.

London, who have taken the NBLC title twice in the NBLC's five-year history, will once again need a big series from their forwards. As was the case versus Windsor, the Bolts come into this series without a height-for-height answer for Halifax's bigs (Kyle Hunt [6'10"], Renaldo Dixon [6'9"], Billy White [6'8"]). Good news is their forward core showed promise in the previously mentioned series against Windsor. Forwards like Akeem Wright (15ppg, 8rpg in the playoffs) and Eric Kibi had very efficient appearances on both ends of the court, especially considering Stephen Maxwell's below-average performance in the series (11ppg, 8rpg). Regardless, Kyle Julius will look to bring the ball inside to free up London's league-best three-point group, led by Akeem Scott (24ppg in the playoffs), in order to combat Halifax's depth on the offensive end.

Halifax, who haven't lost a game yet these playoffs, will look towards their depth to bring them past the Central's top team. When it comes to spreading the points around the court, Hugo Lopez and the Hurricanes are one of the best the NBLC has ever seen. Six players (Mike Glover [12ppg], Joel Friesen [11ppg], Justin Johnson [14ppg], Kyle Hunt [14ppg], Shane Gibson [15ppg], & Billy White [12ppg]) have averaged above 10ppg these playoffs, bringing in an average of 78 points per contest between them. As NBLC-winning sides have proven (especially London's 2012-13 team), depth is very, very important. Speaking of championships, only one player on this Halifax team, former Bolt Kevin Loiselle, has won a championship in the NBLC. That being said, this team has cruised through the playoffs, even sweeping a Saint John side that beat them 6-5 in their season series. While experience could be a factor, it's hard to see this Hurricanes team low on confidence and personal will at this point.

Game 1 of the series will take place at Scotiabank Centre on June 2. Halifax is an NBLC-best 20-4 at home this season.