Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Grand Rapids Drive (29-21) will be heading North of the border to play against the Raptors 905 (31-19) for a single-elimination game to open up the playoffs.
The #GLeaguePlayoffs tip off Friday at 7 pm/et with @GRDrive vs. @Raptors905 on Facebook Live… the first of 4 single-elimination 1st-round games! @TISSOT #ThisIsYourTime
Game preview: https://t.co/hEIDGy65eM pic.twitter.com/uvffkUzKaE
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 29, 2018
The Raptors are very good, and under the coaching of Jerry Stackhouse, have been good all season. They come into the playoffs featuring the best defense in the G-League by allowing just 99.9 points per 100 possessions. Their offense is a less impressive 17th by scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions.
They are led by former Drive and Pistons player Lorenzo Brown who scores 18.8 points and dishes 8.9 assists per game. Brown is also a highly effective defensive player. Kennedy Meeks is a large human who will match up with Landry Nnoko, Malcolm Miller can shoot.
In the end the Raptors are less about individual players beyond Lorenzo Brown who is obviously a standout. The Raptors win on the back of their great defensive play which is a team effort and based on good old-fashioned toughness. The Raptors do not stand out in their ability to limit three-point shots or create turnovers. They thrive on just making the other team miss shots, the Raptors play at the slowest pace in the G-League (by far) partially because they make opposing teams work so hard to create looks.
The Drive, of course, will be playing an emotional game after the death of Zeke Upshaw, who collapsed on the court with 40 seconds left against the Long Island Nets. The playoff games were postponed to allow the Drive time to collect themselves and the team decided together to play for Zeke.
Tomorrow, we play #ForZeke. pic.twitter.com/yhUEKjW4w2
— Grand Rapids Drive (@grdrive) March 29, 2018
In a basketball sense, Zeke’s absence will be felt as well. He played a very valuable role as a shooter off the bench. His consistent shooting and general smart play was a stabilizing force in many games for the Drive and it will be difficult to replace.
Kay Felder’s status for the game is still unknown. He missed the last game with back spasms. Other than that the Drive should have the full complement of players that finished the season by winning six straight games to make the playoffs.
(Feature Photo: Brent Jensen/Palace of Pistons)