WBA Finals Preview
by Ron Chambers
The WBA is reeling after a crazy Conference Finals round. Everything went about as expected in the World Conference. If there was any surprise here it was how dominant Paris was sweeping Albacete with an average point margin of 11.3. The USA Conference was different. California was the clear favorite. Brooklyn shocked everyone by winning game one in California 103-89 behind their impressive defense. But, the biggest news out of that game was the injury to Jarius Miles. At that point, I expected California to sweep the next four games. But, Brooklyn also pulled out a surprise win in game 2. The big news this time was the injury to Hassan Watt. Brooklyn then went up 3-0 on their home court. At this point, I was sure that Brooklyn would win the series. But, California seemed to figure things out and won the next two games bringing the series to 3-2. In my mind, it would all come down to the next game in Brooklyn because I didn’t believe Brooklyn could win a game seven in California. Game six was tremendous! It came down to two steals and two big shots by Antonio Gleason in the last minute of the game to give Brooklyn the win by 2 points. This series was so close with only three points separating the two teams. But, lets be honest. Brooklyn got lucky. Yes the injury to Jarius Miles was huge. But, Hassan Watt is California’s leader. He leads them in scoring and assists, is second in steals, and blocks, and is third in rebounds. He is the team’s heart and losing him was a terrible tragedy for the team. But, this team is all under contract and in their prime. Expect another huge season next year.
Brooklyn is coming to the Finals after a hard fought series that they only won because fate interviened. Mario Bailey has fully recovered from the injury he was playing through. Jarius Miles however is still injured. He will miss game 1 for sure. Likely, he will be back for the rest of the series but he will not be 100%. Despite playing the injury to his finger Bailey has played very well this post-season. He leads the Rage with 27.9 points per game during the playoffs. Antonio Gleason has also been big. He averages 18.6 in the playoffs but seems to get his points at the right times. But, if the Rage have a chance they need Jarius Miles. He is their leading rebounder and was their leading passer in the playoffs prior to his injury. He is also an anchor for the Brooklyn defense that struggled against California allowing 103.7 points per game when they had only allowed 98.6 in the playoffs prior to that.
Paris si the pride of the WBA this year. They won 73 games in the regular season and are 12-1 in the playoffs. 85-8 is one heck of a record at this point. They are also such a different team than Brooklyn. The Rage rely primarily on their stars for offense. In the regular season Bailey, Miles, and Gleason combined for 68.6 points. And all three of those players scored more than any Honey Bee. Paris on the other hand had seven players who score between 18 and 10.6 points during the playoffs. The one player they really rely on is Jervan Timmons who with his 15.8 assists per game makes everyone better. You can look at the rest of the team and they all got better once Timmons was delivering the ball to them. The other thing to consider is that Paris has shut down defenders at the guard spots which could really affect Mario Bailey. This incredibly efficient team is built well to beat the perinial champs.
Predicting this one is hard. It is hard to pick against the Rage after their big upset victory over California. But, Miles is still hurt and will be hobbled for a while. Plus, Paris beat Brooklyn in both their meetings this year and finished with 10 more victories.
Prediction: Paris over Brooklyn in six