WRITTEN BY: 6IXFAN
Welcome to Wild Card Weekend where the four (7 to 10seeds) teams battle it out for the final two playoff spots. Anything can happen in this round as you can remember in Season 2 when Thuva led a comeback against the Lakers that was a thriller. The Warriors also won the wildcard game last year which started their run to an ETBL Season 2 Finals appearance but as the commissioner says...you will have to play an extra grueling game to get to the final destination...which is a Championship!
7pm – Warriors vs Bulls
Warriors will close out their regular season having already clinched a top 6 seed and they can fall no lower than the 4th seed. The scenario is simple, win and they clinch 3rd and face the Bullets, lose and they will play the Grizzlies.
#7 JAZZ (6-5) vs #10 LAKERS (5-6)
The defending champions find themselves in the Wild Card with an uncharacteristic overtime loss to the worst team in the league. Maybe they were already looking forward to the playoffs after their big win against the Blazers and took it easy in the last regular season game.
The Jazz are proven and they are led by back to back Finals MVP Demone Lewis who is the catalyst for their offense. Yaga is a premiere defensive guard and a steady calm influence for their offense. It will come down to their supporting cast. Joseph is a prototypical glue guy who does everything from offensive rebounding to playing high energy defence and will need to continue to do that. Zaid and Thannojh will need to hit shots which they have done throughout the season. GM Sayon and Jenush will need to make the Laker bigs work by bringing physicality and eating up space. Nathaniel will need to give them good minutes off the bench. Look for Demone to drive and kick to his shooters with the big men crashing.
Points - Demone 13.2
Rebounds -Yaga 6.9
Assists - Demone 3.3
The Lakers have had an inconsistent season but they know they have the firepower to beat the best and I like this matchup for them. Ara and Sarwar are the horses with LiShin being the playmaker this season and often guarding the opposing team's best ball handlers. Rahul and Brendan Ferguson bring energy in the front court with Kiru and Kevin doing the glue guy work. I expect LiShin to guard Demone in this one to slow him down. Lakers need to defensive rebound as the Jazz are a great rebounding team that thrive on creating extra chances. Sarwar was a controversial 1st round keeper for GM Rahul and this is a time where he can make his name. Lakers should look to go to Ara early as he a capable postup player which can slow down the pace and get good looks. He brings the energy for this team and the rest will follow. Winner get the 2nd seeded Blazers
Points - Sarwar 10.9
Rebounds – Brendan 7.5
Assists – LiShin 3.6
6IXFAN Picks: JAZZ
COMMISH Picks: JAZZ
#8 CELTICS (5-6) vs #9 RAPTORS (5-6)
The Celtics blew a huge opportunity to get into the top 6 by losing to the Twolves and now reside in the Wild Card round. They have dealt with missing players and injuries (Randy Cho). GM Jso traded that #1 pick for a well-balanced team and theoretically it got him to the playoffs after sitting out last season with the worst record.
Celtics start with Umaraj the bowling ball guard who is averaging 17/6/3 this season going alongside Abdul Wahedi who is averaging 17/10. These two will have to have good games in order to win as we saw Umaraj struggle last week and Twolves blew the Celtics out the water. Season 2 MIP winner Jasinthan can provide the release valve when these two get the attention and with Randy Cho still injured, he becomes the 3rd option. Celtics can throw a myriad of defenders at Harrison and Somi with GM Jso, Jolly, and Aaron and they don’t have shut these two down as they just have to slow them down. Jey should have a great day getting boards because the Raptors are small outside of Thileep. The game plan could be to run a 2 man game with Umaraj and Abdul and have your shooters be ready.
Points - Umaraj 17.3
Rebounds – Abdul 9.6
Assists – Umaraj 3.6
The Raptors (the poster boys of ETBL Instagram) have qualified for the Wild Card after missing the playoffs last year. GM Thileep took over this team and remade it to his liking by first getting rookie of the year candidate Harrison who put up a stellar campaign with perennial ETBL All-star Somi. This team goes far as this backcourt as you can see from the boxscores. Thileep is the only big, he does the screening, rolls to the basket, and the rebounding and will have his hands full with Abdul. Athi will provide hustle and defense and the deadline trade for Chris was key as he is another ball handler. Saktish provides a 3pt threat and is capable of hitting 3’s in big games with his finals experience from last year. Raptors will look to run and beat the Celtics down the floor and also run a 2 man game with Thileep in the half court. Harrison has to show his worth since it is the playoffs and we will see how this rookie fairs. Defensively they have to gang rebound vs this big Celtics team. Whoever makes it through gets the prize of facing the Nuggets.
Points - Harrison 19.2
Rebounds – Thileep 11.3
Assists – Harrison 3.2
6IXFAN Picks: RAPTORS
COMMISH Picks: CELTICS