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NBA G League Playoff Preview: Long Island Nets vs. Raptors 905

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The G League Playoffs have arrived. The Long Island Nets host their first ever playoff game Friday night at Nassau Coliseum, facing one of their Atlantic Division rivals, the Raptors 905.

The Nets go into the game with a 10-game home winning streak.

Long Island finished the regular season with an Eastern Conference best 34-16, which is tied for the G League’s best record with the Rio Grande Vipers. Long Island didn’t play in the first round, having been awarded a bye after winning the division.

The Nets enter the playoffs as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

Where to Follow the Game

FaceBook Live, NBA TV Canada, NBA G League Website at 7pm, ET

The Game

The two teams faced off four times this season. Long Island owned the season series over Raptors 905 with a 3-1 advantage.

The Raptors finished the regular season with two losses against Lakeland Magic, another Atlantic Division rival, but were fourth in both the division and conference with a record of 29-21. In the Eastern Conference final standings, the top four seeds are held by Atlantic Division teams (Long Island Nets, Lakeland Magic, Westchest Knicks and Raptors 905).

Raptors 905 defeated the Grand Rapids Drive, 91-90, in overtime in first-round of the playoffs to advance and face the Nets.

The game tonight is a win-or-go-home game. The winner advances to the Eastern Conference finals to face the winner of Lakeland Magic and the Westchester Knicks.

Rounds one through three of the G League playoffs are one game eliminations. The G League Finals are Best-of-3 series. Long Island will have home court advantage.

Players to Watch

Raptors 905 have a similar offensive system to Long Island: play team basketball. Chris Boucher and two-way guard Jordan Lloyd are anchors and top scorers for 905’s. Boucher is a modern day center. He will shoot three’s if he is left open but is not consistent from behind the arc. In the first-round playoff game against the Drive, he went 0-of-5 from from deep and 6-of-20 from the floor scoring 12 points. Boucher will give the Nets a run for their money on the boards. He averaged 11.2 rebounds per game in the regular season and a team-best 27.2 points per game.

Lloyd, who is the 905’s two-way guard, will put up some stress on Long Island’s backcourt. He can shoot the three consistently and put the ball on the floor. Lloyd shot 36.9 percent from behind the arc during the regular season and averaged 6.0 attempts per game. Overall from the field, Lloyd shot 48.1 percent. He can shoot the mid-range off the dribble or take it to the basket looking for a foul call. Lloyd often gets the most minutes per game for 905.

Good thing for Long Island is they have great talent and depth to match up against these two G League stars, starting with their G League assignee and first round pick, Dzanan Musa.

Dzanan Musa, the Nets 29th pick, has been showing great signs of late. Musa is a crafty offensive player. He can shoot from just about anywhere on the floor with confidence and has elite passing ability. His coach, Will Weaver, has called the 19-year-old the best passer in the G League.

Musa has proved the most dangerous part of his offensive game this season is his driving. He does not care who is in his path, he will take it all the way. This season, Musa averaged 31.6 minutes, 19.5 points, and 5.2 rebounds. Due to his skill set, Musa can play the just about any position but the 5 if Weaver needs him too. In his two games of the regular season, the Bosnian has put up 27 and 26 points.

Nets two-way guard Theo Pinson is a solid defender as well a facilitator in the backcourt. He plays tight defense and works well on switches. Pinson has had a stellar rookie season splitting time with Long Island and Brooklyn. He’s a legitimate candidate for G League Rookie of the Year if not MVP.

Weaver has said he strongly believes his two-way guard is the best player in the G League. Pinson is not afraid to let it fly from behind the arc. He shot the three-ball at 38.7 percent and averaged 8.1 attempts per game. Like Musa, his best offensive attribute is his driving. A good comparison to Pinson’s driving ability is Caris LeVert. Like LeVert, Pinson is a versatile driver who does a great job of creating space in the air and can get himself to the foul line, where he shoots 84.4 percent.

Musa and Pinson also bring something else. Both have championship experience. Musa is a three-time Croatian league champion and led tiny Bosnia to the FIBA U16 title three years ago. Pinson of course won the NCAA’s with North Carolina two years ago. In fact, no NBA player has more NCAA wins than Pinson.

The big question could be Nets two-way center, Alan Williams. He’ll face off against Boucher down low. The two are among the G League’s elite rebounders play good bully-ball. Musa could be matched up against Boucher to start the game.

Williams has played great for Long Island this season earning himself the proud nickname of Mr. Double-Double. Like Pinson, Williams has split some time with Brooklyn. This season, Williams averaged 19.8 points and 12.9 rebounds, good stats for an NBA caliber center. He has worked on his three-ball throughout the season and has proved, if left open, he can knock them down. Big Sauce is also a consistent free throw shooter shooting 77.7%, which is very good compared to other G League centers.

Both Pinson and Williams were G League Eastern Conference All-Stars this season.

Long Island’s stopper, Thomas Wimbush, has been solid for Long Island since returning from injury. Wimbush does a good job playing tight man defense and can poke the ball out of drivers hands. On the offensive end, Wimbush is a streaky three point shooter and is a great driver.

The Nets guard depth off the bench is a strong point as well. Jordan McLaughlin, the crafty guard out of USC, has played well for Long Island this season; especially on the defensive end.

Then, there’s the Nets two Swiss Army knives — and 10-day veterans. Mitch Creek is a physical forward, who can also play guard. Creek, who’s 6’6, played particularly well in the second half of the season which won him two 10-day deals. Tahjere McCall, who earned a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets last month, has been one of Long Island’s most consistent players. His all-around play will be vital in these playoffs.

Projected Starters

Long Island Nets: Theo Pinson, Tahjere McCall, Dzanan Musa, Mitch Creek, Alan Williams

Raptors 905: Jordan Lloyd, Wade Baldwin IV, Malcolm Miller, Chris Boucher, Derek Cooke Jr.