The NBA G League playoffs have gotten off to an exciting start, as the first round of the tournament tipped off this past Tuesday, April 5.
The Delaware Blue Coats, who are the third seed in the Eastern Conference, hosted a first-round matchup against the sixth-seeded Long Island Nets. In front of their packed home crowd, Delaware captured a 133-116 victory.
The win did not come easy, as the Nets battled with the Blue Coats all night.
The competitiveness of the playoffs was evident in the first quarter, which featured back-and-forth three-point shooting from both teams. Long Island shot 6-10 from beyond the arc, while Delaware knocked down four of their seven attempts.
However, the Blue Coats ended the quarter up 37-32 thanks to their ability to get to and make their shots from the free-throw line six times.
In the second quarter, the playoff atmosphere came unglued as the crowd began to get rowdy for their home team.
Coming off the bench, guard Myles Powell scored 11 points in the quarter to contribute to his 19 in the half, with each made shot getting the crowd even louder than the preceding one. Every rebound, every offensive possession, and every defensive play seemed to come with intensity and energy. By halftime, the Coats were up 74-58 over the Nets.
“Our whole message in the second quarter was to just stay on top of them and get the ball out fast,” Blue Coats Assistant Coach God Shammgod Jr. “We were trying to score, push the pace and get defensive stops. In the playoffs, if you can ever get advantages over other teams, that is what you are going to want to do.”
One of the areas of the game that also helped the Coats gain a lead was their rebounding. Even though they were the smaller team, especially when center Charles Bassey was not on the floor, they were crashing the boards on every possession to make it difficult for the much bigger Long Island Nets.
“Nobody really has a position,” Coach Shammgod said. “Everybody can just play. We find out ways to play hard and use our smaller lineups to our advantage. Head Coach [Coby] Karl has always preached ‘be water,’ and I think the guys bought into that early on in the season.”
Jaden Springer was one of those players that seemed to buy into his coaching staff’s gameplan, as he came out and played one of the most aggressive games of his career.
On every possession, Springer was fighting with the Nets’ bigs for defensive rebounds; four of his five total boards were on the defensive end. He was just as aggressive on offense, as he went 8-11 from the field and posted a team-high 26 points.
The Nets tried to cut into the Blue Coats’ lead in the third and fourth frames, but Springer’s 15 points in the second half were a major reason that they could not complete the comeback.
The biggest scare for Delaware came late in the fourth quarter when their lead had been shortened to just nine points with a little less than four minutes left. However, recently acquired Karim Mane put up 11 points in those final few moments to boost his team to the win. One of the biggest moments of the night came when Mane hit a game-icing three-point shot with 35 seconds left.
With the Nets out of their way, Delaware’s next foe will be the Motor City Cruise in the conference semi-finals of the playoffs on Friday, April 8. Will Delaware continue their season, or will Motor City stop the motors on their championship hopes?
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