NBLC Finals Preview

It has been a whirlwind season for your St. John’s Edge, but the ups and downs of the season have culminated into a chance to play for the NBLC Championship. This is the first time in the teams short existence that they will be playing for the league title and it is another shot for the City of Legends to become a City of Champions.

The Edge clinched in Game 6 of their 2nd Round series against the KW Titans, it was a tough and drawn out battle against a solid KW squad, but the Edge were able to overcome some big obstacles to solidify their spot in the Final.

On the otherside, the Moncton Magic booked their ticket to the Finals by defeating the Halifax Hurricanes in Game 7 of their 2nd Round series. Now the stage is set for one of these two teams to be crowned Champion of the NBL Canada.

In this Preview we will break down the season series, take a look at the road that got both teams here, and then give some analysis of what to look for in this series, as well as, the key match-ups.

Season Series
November 23 in St. John’s
These two teams met each other 5 times over the course of the regular season, with the Magic coming out on top in 4 of the 5 games. The Edge however, were the first team to defeat the Magic on their home court.

In the first meeting of these two Division Champions, it was a tightly contested match-up in front of 6,080 fans at Mile One Centre for the Edge home opener of 2018-2019. The Magic looked very in-sync in this one, as they distributed the ball well and worked an inside/outside game that the Edge had trouble defending. The Edge were coming off their first road trip of the season and seemed poised to start their season at home on a winning note. Throughout the game the Magic dictated the tempo and kept the Edge defenders off the glass to coral the boards needed to hold onto a tight lead in the fourth quarter. It was not the best shooting game overall by either team, the Magic shot just 28% from three-point range, while the Edge shot just 33.3%. In the end the Edge could not climb back into this one after being down by as many as 13 heading into the final quarter. They would go on to drop this one by a score of 95-91.

The Edge were led by Maurice Jones Sr. and Todd Brown Jr. in this one as the two had 17 and 16 points respectively. For the Magic they were led by Billy White who scored 21 points in the win.
November 25 in St. John’s
The second meeting would occur just two-days later. This would be another tightly contested game to start as the teams exchanged baskets frequently in the first quarter, but it was Moncton who would take a slight 2-point lead into the second. The second quarter was the difference maker in this one when the Magic would overcome a 1-point Edge lead in the middle part of the quarter and go on a 13-1 run and send this one into the final two quarters up by double-digits.

The Edge would find it tough to regain the lead and would suffer their second straight loss to the Magic by a score of 112-100.

The difference in this one was the shooting by the Magic who shot 46% from both the field and three-point range after their low shooting numbers in the first game. For the Edge, they struggled again from three-point range, but were led by Guillaume Boucard who dropped 21 points in the loss.  

December 1 at Moncton
This would be the third straight time that the two teams faced each other, this time it would take place in Moncton.

Once again it was a close battle through the first two quarters, with the Magic being the comeback kids, overcoming a 6 point deficit in the third quarter to take a one point lead into the final frame. It would be back an forth with both teams playing some good defence to keep the other off the scoreboard. The Edge would regain a lead late, but Moncton would put together an 8-0 run to take this one by a score of 80-75.  

Both teams struggled all night long in this one, with the Edge only shooting 24% from three-point range and Moncton only shooting 20% from beyond the arc. The difference was the work of the guards as the Magic dictated the pace as they did in the first meeting to pull this one out in the end.

December 29 at Moncton
With a new year and a new look Edge team, the teams would meet again in Moncton.

This would be the first time the Edge had former NBA Champion, Glen Davis in the lineup against the Magic. That would not phased Moncton through the first as they would look to Billy White to give them a 9-point lead through one. The Edge would regain some ground in the second as Glen Davis checked into the game and paced the offence for 7 points.

Edge would play comeback through the second half, once trailing by as many as 20. They would go on a 17-1 run in the third to erase the deficit and take their first lead since the late stages of the second quarter. Working an inside out style offence, they utilized Moncton’s noticeable double teams of the Edge big men and capitalized by hitting their shots from the outside to take this one by a score of 98-86, handing the Moncton Magic their first loss at home.

February 12 at Moncton
The final meeting between these two teams would be another one where the Magic would take an early lead and never look back.

The Edge would try and make the comeback in this one late in the third, but they would only get as close as a single point late in the fourth quarter, but the Magic were able to play solid defence and move the ball around to find their open shots. Trey Kell, a new addition for Moncton at the time, would pace their offence for 24 points to lead them to the win.

St. John’s would get a gutsy performance from Junior Cadougan who dropped 32 points in the loss. The difference in this one was the performance by the Moncton bench who outscored the Edge bench by 34 points.
Moncton would take the season series, 4 games to 1. This would also secure them home court advantage over the Edge in the Finals.
Round 1 and 2 Recap
St. John’s Edge vs Sudbury Five/KW Titans
For your Edge, they would go the distance in their first round as they knocked off a shar shooting Sudbury Five team who were playing some of their best basketball at the time.

The Edge would trail in the series and facing elimination in Game 4. They would put together one of their best performances of the season and get solid production from Isaiah Tate II and Glen Davis own the stretch to lock this one up.

On the Sunday following their Friday win, the Edge would get another gutsy performance from Dez Lee who had to miss Game 3 with a lower body injury. Lee pulled out all the stops and the game was capped off by some great defensive play down the stretch to push them into the 2nd round.

In the second round the Edge faced a KW Titans team who were on fire dating back to the last week of the season and were coming out of a series where they knocked off the defending champion London Lightning.

The Edge would pick up two big wins at home to begin the series. With Game 1 ending on a miraculous defensive play by Glen Davis who locked up the win for the Edge. They would then do the same in Game 2, playing to their strengths and getting KW in foul trouble early to take the 2-0 series lead.

This would not be the last for the Titans however, as they would win the first two games in Kitchener to even the series at 2 games apiece. In a crucial Game 5 match-up, the Edge took advantage of some untimely misses by the Titans and played some serious defence down the stretch to take a 3-2 series lead heading back to Mile One for Game 6.

Let’s be honest, everyone knows the outcome of Game 6 of the series, probably due to the fact that you could hear the fans in Mile One Centre from all the way in Kitchener, ON. It was another gutsy performance from Dez Lee who was again hamered by his lower body injury and Glen Davis was virtually unstoppable in the post dropping 31 points in the win.

People will say for years that history was made when the Edge won Game 6 and advanced to the first ever NBL Canada Finals.

Moncton Magic vs Saint John Riptide/Halifax Hurricanes
In their First Round series the Magic made quick work of a depleted Riptide squad. Moncton would win the first two by over 20 points and then in Game 3 of the series they would get out to a quick start, but Saint John fought all game long, but would fall just short as Moncton took Game 3 and the sweep.

In the second round, Moncton faced the defending NBLC Atlantic Division Champion Halifax Hurricanes. Halifax showed why they were defending champs by knocking off Moncton 102-87 in Game 1. The Magic held a lead throughout the majority of the game, but faultered in the fourth quarter allowing the Hurricanes to storm back and rip this one from their hands.

We will keep the middle game summary short, but lets just say that this series was tooth and nail throughout. There was no love lost between the two teams either, with Moncton having to play a more physical style to maintain their position in the post, while Halifax adjusted and played the finesse style in some ways to keep up with the torrid pace of the Magic offence.

This one went the distance, all the way to Game 7 on a Sunday afternoon at the Avenir centre in Moncton. This one was nothing short of a classic! It mirrored Game 1 of the series where Moncton would control the game through three quarters, with Halifax not being able to knock down there open looks and failing to keep up with the Magic in transition.

The Hurricanes would tie it up at the end of the 3rd. Then we had one of the most intense fourth quarters of basketball that we have seen all season. Halifax grabbed the lead first, they would be up by as many as 6, then Moncton fought back to take a 7-point lead, of course Halifax came back and took the two point lead with under 3 minutes left (are you still following along?)

Into the final minute, Halifax with a one point lead, Moncton would feed the ball to Trey Kell who hit the huge rainbow jumper from just inside the three-point line to put the Magic in front 83-82. Moncton would take a big charging call with just over 10 seconds left, then Halifax would foul to put Jason Calliste at the line. He would nail both free-throws.

With 3 seconds left, the Hurricanes through the ball into Mike Poole for the tie, but it would go back rim and out. Moncton were moving on!

Talk about exciting, we definitely expect this series to be much of the same with both teams capable of their own late game heroics.
Round Two – KW Titans vs St. John’s Edge
There is no other way to put it, the two teams playing their best basketball are vying for the championship starting on May 8th at the Avenir centre. Your Edge have seen ups and downs, but over the course of the last month have put in an effort as a team that rivals the “Jordan Flu-Game” for all of your basketball purists. Moncton, they have just gone through a whirlwind of emotions in just a single game (Game 7 vs Halifax).

This series will be tooth and nail (yes, we use that analogy a lot, as many of us in the office have barely any left). The Edge will be looking to control the pace, Moncton are a team that likes to capitalize on sluggish defences, they love to play a pick and roll style, so it will be up to the the Edge defenders to shut down the guard/post play and control the glass.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Edge once again have the advantage in the post as Glen Davis and Olu Ashaolu are one of the best combos in the league and will be tough to stop around the hoop. Mix in the fact that Murphy Burnatowski will be playing the Power Forward slot and will extend the defense to open the lane and this may just result in how the Edge will make their shots.

Similar to the KW series it will be about ball movement and hitting the open looks. Without the services of Junior Cadougan, Jarryn Skeete will be carrying the ball up the floor for most games, with Dez Lee taking over when Skeete hits the bench. Still with a pretty banged up team, they will have to fight through those injuries and Head Coach Steve Marcus will have to get creative to ensure he keeps tabs on minutes for those guys who are ailing from their injuries.

One key component will be Carl English. We talked about it prior to last series, but this time it is different. English is in game shape and has shown that when he finds a rhythm there are not many guys who can guard one of the best jump shots in the league. Finding a way to get Carl open will be key for the the off-ball guards. English will also bring his veteran savvy with the ability to create havoc for those that guard him.

Key Match-Ups
For this preview we will not be looking specifically at the key match-ups, but just noting some key players to watch throughout the series.

For Moncton, keep an eye on Billy White, Trey Kell, and Corey Allmond. These three players are lightning in a bottle. White is a big man who likes to drive and kick, his strength is the ability to get to the hoop when he takes the pass outside the key. His length will make him a threat on both sides of the ball.

Kell is a shooter, he knows how to utilize the screens and get his open looks. He is also clutch, he is the guy they would look to for late game shot for a tie or a win.

Corey Allmond, well he is one of the best proven guards in the NBLC. Out in transition there are not many like him, he also likes to shoot the deep threes. Expect him to be a spark plug and a leader through this series for the Magic.

For the Edge, we are going to say the whole team. To get here has been a team effort and we have embodied TEAM first mentality from Game 1 of the playoffs. Every single guy at any given time can step up and give them the spark. When the defence is on point, it is lock down on everyone. The mix of big men and guards is pure, they know how to work together and trust one another when the times get tough. Having each others backs when times get tough, while having the “Bench Mob” causing havoc on the sidlines will surely be a boost.

This one should go the distance. Two teams that are hungry and ready, four wins gets you a championship.

Every possession, second, dribble matters. This is what we have been working for and the time is now.