The A1 season was over in the blink of an eye this time around. It feels like I was just swindling Turin out of his 2ndand 3rd round draft picks. Unfortunately it worked out for him as well as it did for me. As some of you will remember, I made the blunder of listing the reasons why youíre team wouldnít make the playoffs. So this playoff preview is all about emphasizing the positives, well mostly. As always, good luck to all the teams, and may the best win. Awards will be posted Monday morning to give you guys fuel for the fire before the first round games. Odds to take home the Brick are in parentheses
7:10 PM Game “Target Practice”
# 1 Seed Warriors Code (3-2)
ìLook for a refís whistle to fittingly do these guys in come postseason play.î My exact words in the preview, and Iím sticking to them. Iím looking for you DMac! WC Ended the seasons right where they started the season, in first place, never giving it up for even a week. These guys the deepest team in the league (sorry OíCal) and should have a full team for the kickoff to Mondayís festivities. No one can possibly hope to stop both JaySar and Tosti from the wing. Usok, aka Da Sniper, just comes in off the bench and fires away. Thatís before we mention Filosa and Walsh on the inside. Plus wherever JGall feels like going. These guys have been making it work all season and there is no reason to see it failing now. With the new banners now up, everybody will be looking to get their names up on the wall, but at the outset, WC is the favorite to hoist both a new banner, and the Brick in 3 weeks.
# 8 Seed Shroud of Turin (12-1)
GP and Salazar and pray for rain (baby)? That doesnít quite sound right, but baseball season is right around the cornerÖ.If there is one team that can knock off the Warriors Code, this is it. Hopefully they learned from playing them just a couple weeks ago in the regular season. Hereís a hint, guard Tosti!! GP always unstoppable come playoff time, I donít think there is anyone in the gym that hasnít felt the sting of being knocked out of the playoffs by one of his teams (two out of three seasons for me). Salazar wonít stop shooting (his ball or mouth) and that only means good things for Shroud against such a high scoring team. Bradyís improved aggressiveness in the post is going to sorely be needed, and any boards that Edwards can pull down will help. The X-Factor in this game is going to be Hinton. Heís averaging a quiet 12 points, 7 boards and 7 assists this season. If heís on his game, Shroud will pull off the upset.
8:00 PM Game “Inside Outside SlugFest”
# 4 7 AM in PTown (4-1)
With everyone in attendance, PTown is the most fun team in the league to watch. Theyíre the CRFC version of the Suns. Sure the defense may not always be there. But they have 4 guys on this roster that can all create their own shots without so much as a pick or backdoor cut. They may have the two best point guards in the league. Thatís right I said it. Lau has been that good this season, and OíCal has always had that special ability to make all the players around him better just by being on the court. Have we mentioned the Reihl Deihl yet? The man raced out as the MVP favorite out of the gate, and only a stretch of DNP-MIAs kept him from being in that discussion at the end of this season. The guy who was there no matter what, Ian Urquhart, doesnít need anyone to tell him to shoot, heís already let it go before you can even think to yell ìWatch that shot!!î Theyíll have a tough time on the boards in this one, (where art thou Alias!?) but if theyíre running the fast break theyíll be impossible to beat.
# 5 Cousin Gilbert (10-1)
The Hitman is on a roll as of late. Heís found the outside stroke, and is motivated by constantly being snubbed in the eyes of some. Supe will dominate the paint no matter who heís playing against, it doesnít matter how many guys are in his way. But for every lay-up that they are able to get, PTown will be able to answer with a 3 from anyone. As a result, this may be the worst possible matchup for Cousin Gilbert in the first round. But if anyone can find a way to motivate his players, itís the combo of MixTape with the emails, and Kevy Kev on the court. A lot of that swagger that was missing this season came back to Black Ice just last week in a seemingly meaningless game. If he can carry that kind of intensity and attitude into the playoffs, CG will never be completely out of a game. As a result, Kev is the X-Factor in this match-up, and is the key to victory for CG, he absolutely cannot get off to a slow start if they want to move on.
8:50 PM Game “The Grudge Match”
# 3 Pittsburg Pisces (8-1)
This is the team I most underestimated all season long, and theyíve used that as fuel for their fire, especially His Smoothness. Garyís got the $100 bet going with Al on this game. That fits right into Alís master plan, getting into Garyís head as soon as possible. Heís going to need every edge he can get, as RoY, Tommy Kahana, is going to be out of town for this one. So hopefully Al at least has some sort of plan, going to the basket will be a start. The X-Factor in this game (other than GFish of course) is going to be Tim Began. In the playoffs the lights are the brightest, and absolutely everyone will be watching. This will be his chance to leave his mark on at CRFC in just his rookie season. Heíll need to have a huge game on both ends of the floor if the Pisces want to move on to the next round without their sharpshooter.
# 6 Evil Petting Zoo (6-1)
Like EPZ needs any more advantages, they donít have to face one of the best shooters in the gym for their first round game. Theyíve already got the best defense in the League, and their job just got a whole lot easier. As a result, EPZís odds are higher than they normally would for their seed. Theyíre still going to need to find enough offense to overcome Al, but with Gary motivated by his bet, he should be knocking down all his layups. The concern is that Al will slip something to Gary the night before the big game, donít be dirty Al! Sweeney has had a quiet season in his second go-round with Special K (still the reigning MVP until Monday) but Mike is going to have to step up in the playoffs. They canít afford the 7-8 point drop that usually plagues teams come playoff time. Itís win or go home, and this is the best possible matchup for EPZ to get with such a low seed.
9:40 PM Game “The Night Cap”
# 2 Drunk in the Trunk (2-1)
Drunk in the Trunk takes the longest current winning streak of the season into the playoffs. They also ended the season as the highest scoring team in the League. What exactly does that mean come playoff time? Well absolutely nothing, for starters. With so many guys used to scoring at any time, the slower pace of the playoffs have the potential to frustrate DitT to the point of losing their cool. They almost did last time these two teams met, and the results arenít guaranteed to come out the same this time. The focus will be on K.O. but whoís the guy thatís going to step up in crunch time? Itís been a rotating responsibility during the regular season, but you can never go into the postseason with a closer by committee approach. Paul Z has made big shots all season, and Zarmon always seems to be in the right place at the perfect time. Drunk still hasnít the most size in the League, and the two leading shot blockers. Now if they could turn that into some semblance of a defense, theyíll be the ones taking home the Brick.
# 7 Smooth This (12-1)
All their wins have come when theyíve had a full squad, so Serge did indeed draft a quality team that plays very well together. Will they all be able to show up for the second week in a row?? No matter what attendance issues happen during the season, the playoffs always seem to bring everyone out of the woodwork. Trevor has already ëunofficiallyí set the gym record for 3s in a game this season. Thatís the type of performance heíll need in this one. With Kurt working the paint against a plethora of big men, every possession will be invaluable. CRip didnít get a shot at these guys earlier in the season, so heís a wrinkle that DitT will not yet have accounted for. Heís going to be the one responsible for keeping Paul Z in check. Throw in the always- under-appreciated Matt Wolfe, and there are 4 guys that can score on any given possession. It constantly amazes me how Matt can slip to the later rounds without anyone seeming to notice. Heís a strong interior defender, which is something Smooth This is going to need in this one, and heís also their X-Factor. Smooth This left everyone on the floor last week to knock off Warriors Code so they didnít have to face them in Round 1, they wonít want to waste that performance by dropping this one.