Our second 1st rnd matchup is between the league leading Thunderbay Muderball (11-3) and the Calgary based Ball-Bearings (6-8)
Keys for victory for the Ball-Bearings:
1. Deron Williams
The pressure is really on Williams now, selected 2nd overall (ahead of LeBron James, *cough*), Williams simply MUST deliver some crunch time performances for the BB's to have a shot. If Williams is only average this game could be over mid-week.
2. Dwight Howard
His timing couldn't be better as the physics defying center has finally rounded into shape and healed from his 'back spasms' that threatened to utterly derail his year. With the Lakers battling life and death for a playoff spot Howard will be the focal point for all the work close to the basket, and he could put up some outrageous numbers if his health is good. A few good weeks to end the season could also salvage Howard's case to be a franchise player.
If Milsap and Jefferson can have a good finish to the year, the BB's might have a shot. Unfortunately, the Jazz are kinda sucky, and are serious threats to fall out of the playoff mix entirely (they are 2 games back of the Lakers). If the team is motivated and hitting on all cylinders in a playoff drive, these two guys will likely be leading the charge. If they fall any further back, both could be hitting the pine with more regularity. Factor in as well that both players are on the trading block as the Jazz have a pair of young bigs threatening to cheaply replace them (including guy-to-watch-out-for Enes Kanter) and you a recipe for potential chaos.
For the Murderball, the keys to victory are;
1. Kobe and Melo
Both are having near career years offensively this season (which was a surprise for Kobe), both are battling nagging injuries, both are lightning rods for controversy, both can be counted on to turn into shoot-first blackholes when games get out of hand, and both are struggling to elevate their teams into a decent playoff seed. If these two guys are going hard for the Murderball, they might run away with it early.
2. Blake Griffin
'Lob City' is in full force these days and Griffin is an absolute monster within an arm's width of the basket. With Paul playing at full speed and the Clippers trying to get on a roll before the playoffs, some big stat lines from Griffin are definitely possible. Has moved his name into consideration as a franchise player.
With both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on the roster, the success of Memphis down the stretch will be a going concern for the Murderball. Gasol isn't a great offensive performer, but he is the best passing big-man in basketball (and a hellacious defender - which doesn't show in his stats), and those assists can rack up some big point totals in fantasy b-ball. Randolph is as earthbound as Antaeus, but is capable of doing tremendous damage with his vast array of post moves and hook shots.
Verdict; the Murderball should roll over the Ball-Bearings.