Monday, May 09, 2016

2016 NBLC Playoffs: Division Final Previews

LONDON (1) vs. WINDSOR (2)

Season Series: Tied 5-5
Last Series: London over Orangeville 3-0, Windsor over Niagara 3-0
Players To Watch: Stephen Maxwell, Chris Commons
Prediction: London Wins 4-3

The NBLC's 401 rivalry will get back underway in the Central Final after both London and Windsor swept away their opponents in the first round.

Once again, the focus of this matchup will be on Windsor's defense. If some of Bill Jones' longer defenders (Brandon Robinson, Kirk Williams Jr.) can shut down London's perimeter shooters (Warren Ward, Akeem Wright, Ryan Anderson), it could put the Lightning in a bit of trouble. London's lack of a big presence down low could cause problems, considering the veteran Chris Commons is lining up for the opponents.

For London, this series is all about making sure they don't get ripped apart on the inside. Windsor's forward core have had a blistering playoffs so far, with players like Kirk Williams Jr. (15ppg, 8rpg) and Mo Bolden (6ppg, 9rpg) coming up against a shorter-than-average London squad. Kyle Julius will look towards the three-ball (1st with 10.9 3ptrs made per game) to push them into the NBLC Final.


Season Series: Saint John 6-5
Last Series: Halifax over Island 3-0, Saint John over Moncton 3-1
Players To Watch: Justin Johnson, Gabe Freeman
Prediction: Halifax Wins 4-2

The top-ranked Halifax Hurricanes are set to take on their boogeyman in the Atlantic Final as the Saint John Mill Rats will bring their veteran lineup against the NBLC's best team in the regular season.

Halifax, who ended the regular season with a 29-11 record, lost their season series with Saint John 6-5. The Mill Rats are the only team to have more wins than losses against Halifax this season.

The Hurricanes will look to their depth to get past the very experienced Mill Rats. Bench players like Justin Johnson (15ppg in three games vs. ISL) and Mike Glover (11ppg, 7rpg) have gotten themselves involved early, something Hugo Lopez will need to have if he wants to move on. Halifax should be able to deal with Saint John's notoriously effective inside defense with their fantastic ball distribution and outside shooting.

For Saint John, this series will be won close to the basket. If Rob Spon's men can scare the Hurricanes from the key (Anthony Stover, obviously), they could control this series. Furthermore, if they can limit the influence of Clifford Clinkscales on offense (7apg), they could be working towards their first NBLC Finals appearance in franchise history. Players like Stover and Gabe Freeman can keep the boards tidy on both ends. Look for the Mill Rats to try to get shots off as close to the boards as possible against the NBLC's best defense.