The 905 have had it somewhat easy in their first playoff run. They played Canton without former NBA-er Quinn Cook. Next it was Maine who was missing their best player and anchor in Marcus Georges-Hunt, who also spent time in the NBA. Now, the roles are reversed, as the losses of Edy Tavares and Axel Toupane may be finally hurting the 905. The team dropped the opening game of the D-League Finals to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 119-106, to fall behind 0-1 in the best of three series.
The Vipers, who have the best offense in the D-League, play at a high tempo and take a lot of 3s like their big league team the Houston Rockets. To start the game though, the Vipers went ice cold and the 905 quickly had a 10-1 lead. However, from there Darius Morris took the game over. Morris, an NBA veteran, took control of the struggling Vipers offense, along with Rockets assignee Kyle Wiltjer, to push them back into the game.
On the 905, E.J. Singler and Brady Heslip, who were huge for the 905 in Game 2 against Maine, just couldn’t get their 3-balls to drop. Case in point: to end the 1st quarter Heslip air-balled a top of the arc three pointer. At the end of a sloppy first the 905 were up 31-29.
The second quarter brought more high tempo offense from the Vipers, which proved to give the 905’s defense a hard time. The Vipers were quickly pushing the ball up the court and not letting Stackhouse and the 905 get set into their defense. On top of that, it seemed apparent that the 905’s offense just couldn’t keep up with the Vipers’, especially with Heslip and Singler’s shots not falling. John Jordan tried to spark the 905, as he was 4-of-4 from the field at one point, but the Vipers stayed hot and had a 55-51 lead at half.
After halftime, the Vipers again came out flying and once again the 905 didn’t know how to stop it. The Vipers continued to take and make threes, while Heslip, the 905’s key shooter, was still without one until he went 3-of-4 from three on three straight 905 possessions. C.J. Leslie and assignee Pascal Siakam continued to produce, but from there it was all Vipers, as every time the 905 started a comeback it felt like Darius Morris or Kyle Wiltjer responded with a dunk or a three to kill the rally. At the end of the third quarter, Rio Grande Valley led 93-82.
Entering the fourth, Morris helped the Vipers take a 15 point lead before heading to the bench. Sadly, even then, the 905 failed to capitalize. The 905 were led by Leslie’s 25 points, while Siakam had a 20-10, and they did cut Rio Grande Valley’s lead to 7 with 3 minutes and change to go. Ultimately, it was too little too late.
With a Game 1 loss, the 905 now have to win two straight in Mississauga to take the D-League title.
- Call this the Michale Kyser Revenge Game That Wasn’t. Kyser joined the Vipers via the player pool on Saturday after spending last season with the 905 before getting traded to Salt Lake City for Goodluck Okonoboh on draft night.
- John Jordan had probably his best game of the season, as he finished with 19 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds in 34 minutes.
- Only 4 of the 10 players on the 905 who saw the court put up double digit points, which is not the recipe for success for this team.
- Goodluck Okonoboh at +3 led the 905 in plus/minus along with Siakam at 0. They were the only positive players on the 905 for the game.
- The 905 will return home on Tuesday in a must win Game 2 at 7pm.