The National Basketball League of Canada (NBL-C) playoffs are almost here and the clichés are in order.
The playoffs are the playoffs and the regular season doesn’t matter. It’s a whole new season. Once you get to the postseason anything can happen.
Unfortunately for the London Lightning they’re all true.
“I think there’s more parity in this league then anybody anticipated,” said Summerside Storm head coach Joseph Salerno. “I had no preconceived notions at the start of the season who I thought would be coming out. I think the parity has been great and keeps people on the edge of their seat.”
He couldn’t be more right. One win for the fan’s team and they’re jumping on their seat quicker than Tom Cruise on Oprah. A single loss has a fan slumped down in their seat more than your grandmother at a bingo hall after being one number away from a winning card.
The place mats have been set for the playoffs, but who’s sitting down with plates hasn’t been determined.
The London Lightning clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs about three weeks ago, while the Summerside Storm solidified the second-spot in the postseason Friday (March 8).
The other three playoff seeds still haven’t been decided and might not get figured out until the final regular season games on Saturday (March 16) with five teams battling for a spot, ranging from the Windsor Express (20-18) to the Oshawa Power (18-20) and three teams in between.
The winner of the best-of-three series between the fourth and fifth place teams will go on to play the Lightning in a best-of-five semifinal starting Monday, March 25 at Budweiser Gardens.
It’s tough to say who might have an edge in the playoffs, no matter which teams get in.
The Lightning have the league’s best record by far, but lost their first back-to-back matchups just three games away from the postseason before snapping the skid Saturday (March 9) on the road against the Montreal Jazz 120-116.
If the Power can get into the postseason and play an Atlantic Conference team they might be able to get on the winning path again, collecting a 7-4 record against the east coast teams before heading into an eight game skid.
The Express just recently passed the .500 mark, but have won 10 of their last 12 games and five consecutive victories.
“You have Windsor who might be the hottest team going right now. Two weeks ago people were counting them out,” said Halifax Rainmen head coach Rob Spon.
Summerside has beaten London twice in three games, but the Halifax Rainmen has split the season series with the Storm in six matchups.
The Moncton Miracles have dominated the Rainmen with six wins and just two losses this season, while Moncton has only picked up two wins over their New Brunswick rivals in the Saint John Mill Rats.
“I don’t want to play anybody,” Salerno said. “I don’t want to see anybody because they’re all going to be tough.”
Matchups don’t always matter in the playoffs though.
Last year London went the distance with Halifax in the best-of-five NBL-C inaugural championships after owning the Rainmen in the regular season with a 6-1 record.
“London dominated Halifax all last year and then when it came to the championship, guess what?” said Spon, this season being his first-year with the Rainmen. “Halifax was one game from winning it.”
Fans want their team to win, but ultimately a good series is what’s best for the league.
Short of a crowd storming the court, Oshawa head coach Larry Blunt probably gave the best cliché of all for describing what fans can do during playoff time.
“You just let the chips fall where they may.”