2020 WBA Playoff second round predictions
by Timmy Frenchie
Gabon Giants vs Paris Honey Bees
(Paris won season series 3-0)
As expected, the Honey Bees collected lots of points in their first round matchup. They scored 522 points in only 4 games, averaging 131 points per game. Nigeria defense is not that bad by the way, as they ranked 16th in the league in points scored by an opponent (108 points per game) and 10th in opponent FG% (.458). But Paris offense is really at another level. They shoot 55% for the series (206/375), capping that with an amazing efficiency demonstration in game 4, where they scored 156 points on 66% shooting. The motor of this team remains MVP Jervan Timmons, who produce stellar numbers with 18 points and 15 assists to go along with 3 steals. But it was his sidekick Klemens Eberle that really made an impression in the first series, improving from regular season on his points, rebounds, and blocks. The German big man is starting to look more and more like a franchise player and Paris management are still jubilating that they could pick this player at #13 only 2 years ago. As usual, Marcus Rogers was a pest on defense getting almost 4 steals per contest. After showcasing so much talent and confidence in the first round, it is difficult to consider that this team could be beaten in a 7 game series.
What a difference a year can make. After finishing at the bottom of the Global division last season, the Giants finished the campaign at the top of it. And they kept going in the first round winning against an established Barcelona squad. The Giants held the Counts to an average of 100 points per game, 11 pts less than their season average. Hamilton Robins going down with an injury in the second game was a big blow for Barcelona, as they are not a strong inside defensive team without him. Rookie Artie Duggons played his first few pro games, which generated lots of hype. Duggons was simply magnificent from the get-go, averaging 24 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks as Gabon main offensive weapon. The most impressive aspect of his game thus far is the shooting efficiency, as the 20 years old big man made 44 out of 57 shots for an out-of-this-word 77%. Looks like the Giants have found a gem.
There is so many thing to keep an eye on; the projected titanic battle between Eberle and Duggons down low. Kurz also feels like he has something to prove after getting snubbed from the all-defensive team in favor of his fellow German Eberle. Future Hall-of-Famer Abdiel Gordon faces his long time mentor Adrian from Capetown. Bobbie Mason should be booed in his return in Gabon after requesting a trade in the middle of a tumultuous season last year. Rookie sensation Urban Navratil will be watching this series from the bench, out with a concussion. So much drama but when it comes down solely on basketball, the Honey Bees are clearly the better team.
Prediction: Paris over Gabon in 5
Moscow Snow Bears vs Albacete Burning Hell
(Albacete won season series 3-1)
Facing the Cancun Outlaws was one big obstacle in Albacete journey for a championship. They did pass the test successfully in the first round, beating the Outlaws in 6 games. This was still a tough battle, but the Burning Hell were consistent all series long and manage to outscore the Outlaws by an average of 8 points per game. Once again, they were led by Jordan excellent play as he poured in 25 points per game. But his strong supporting cast all chipped in resulting in a great all-around team performance. This team as so much versatility on the defense end. Blanco, Brandon, Irving and Pinelo are all excellent perimeter defenders and Rogers, Jordan and Hendricks are all elite post defenders. No other team in the league has so much dept defensively, except maybe the Fighting Cocks.
The seesaw battle between the Mayhem and the Snow Bears ended in game 7 in Moscow. After getting blown out by 32 points on their own floor in game 1, you already knew that nothing would be easy for the Snow Bears in the first round, even after capturing Conference 3rd best spot. Both teams were able to win on the road making this series hard to predict even before game 7. The home team was able to overcome a deficit early in the game to win a close decisive game, thanks to Acklin, Neetar and Trice who combined for 71 points.
Even if Albacete dropped a game decided by 2 points in their regular season meeting, the Burning Hell had no trouble at all handling the Snow Bears in all other games. 2 of those wins were statement games, as Albacete crushed Moscow by at least 30 points twice. Rumors are circulating that Meyers could come back sooner from his injury, but how soon can he comeback and more importantly how effective can he be with his patellar tendanitis. His impact will not affect the outcome of this series anyway, as Albacete has their eyes set on higher goals.
Prediction: Albacete over Moscow in 4
Fort Worth Warriors vs California Fighting Cocks
(California won season series 3-0)
Some experts said that the Dinos did not even deserve to be in the Playoffs, finishing the season with only 35 wins. Still, the Dinos were not that easy of a matchup for the Fighting Cocks from what we have seen in their regular season meetings. As expected, California took care of business winning the series in only 4 games. But let’s mention that 3 of those games were decided by 8 points or less. This does not take away anything from the Fighting Cocks, who arguably are the top contender this season.
After getting down 3-2 against the Gargoyles, Starman and Mathieu combined for 73 points in game 6 to help the Warriors steal a big-time win by 3 points in Los Angeles. But the X-factor has been the return of Daryl Whittaker, who came back just in time to help his squad to avoid elimination. Even if his stress fracture is not completely healed, he still got on court and did everything he could for his team. That’s dedication. The Warriors cruised to a 47 points victory in game 7, much to the delight of fans.
California path to glory is different in these playoffs. Having captured Conference top spot, they avoid playing a talented squad like Boston in the second round. Fort Worth is a fair opponent, but in no way at the same level as California. Plus, the Warriors have just finished an exhausting 7 games series while the Fighting Cocks had many days to rest. This round should not last very long, giving California many more days to rest soon.
Prediction: California over Fort Worth in 4
Boston Massacre vs Brooklyn Rage
(Boston won season series 3-1)
As predicted, the Massacre easily took care of a depleted and aging Pioneers squad. Only one game of the series was close, thanks to a late comeback from a proud Colorado team. John Keating and Chris Dao led this squad in points in the first round, combining for 55 points per game, which is almost 50% of Boston offense. Although Weidner and Askins did a decent job, the Massacre will need more offensive contribution from them and from others if they want to advance another round in these playoffs. Still, Boston’s team is fully healthy and ready to focus on the next challenge.
The evil Rage still lives. With no surprise, they easily took care of the young Fanatics, winning the series in 5 games while outscoring them by almost 16 points per game. Even at age 33, Bailey still looks at the top of his game, averaging 29 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Miles was also superb with 23 pts, 11 rebounds, 8 assists plus 2 steals and a block. As long as these two perform at such a high level, they are a threat to capture another title. Whatever teams you put against them, never underestimate Brooklyn.
This is where things get interesting. Rage won only once this season against the Massacre, as they were beaten in three other matchups by an average of 13 points. Miles and Bailey were both playing in all those games. Credit the Massacre defense for Rage’s bad shooting in those losses (only 39%). Is this the end of an era for the Rage? Can this recently reassembled Boston Squad take out the champions and break the streak of 5 consecutive championships? It is a huge task for a franchise that only won 2 playoffs series over the last 7 years. A team that might still be looking for their own identity and more cohesion. Even if they slowed down a little, Brooklyn still has so much confidence and experience. And they also have homecourt.
Prediction: Brooklyn over Boston in 6