Raptors 905 vs. Canton Charge Preview
The NBA D-League Playoffs are finally among us as eight teams look to raise the championship trophy this year. This will also be the final year it will be considered a D-League Championship as the league will re-brand itself as the NBA Gatorade League (G-League) next season.
For those unfamiliar with the D-League Playoff format, each round is a Best-of-3 series with the lower seed hosting Game 1 at home each round.
Raptors 905 (1) vs. Canton Charge (4)
NBA veteran and now 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse leads his team into the playoffs against the Canton Charge. Stackhouse’s team finished 39-11 during the regular season, the second-best record in NBA D-League history while the Charge are headed to the postseason for the sixth-consecutive season, easily a league record as well.
The 905 have found their success through their defensive prowess, as they are the only team this past season to give up fewer than 100 points per contest.
Depth reigns supreme with the 905, as Stackhouse spread the minutes across his team, as no one on the roster (other than assignment players) averaged more than 28.7 minutes per game. That allowed his team to maintain their health and succeed long-term, something that will pay off in the quick grind that is the D-League postseason.
The 905 will be lead by a towering frontcourt with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Edy Tavares anchoring the paint. In an undersized league, having someone who stands 7-foot-3 is incredibly beneficial. What’s even more impressive is how the 905 staff brought Tavares along.
Acquired off waivers early in the season, his minutes steadily grew during the regular season, Tavares averaged 10 points to go with 7.7 rebounds with 2.7 blocks per game to boot.
Their defense is also led by Axel Toupane, who earned a call-up with the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Toupane, who spent last season with the Denver Nuggets, is arguably the best player on the 905 given his versatility and his strength to defend multiple positions on the court.
The 905 are an incredibly disciplined team on offense, relying on an inside-outside game, dumping the ball into the post and kicking out to wide open three-point shooters like the Canadian Assassin Brady Heslip.
The Baylor alum is shooting over 41% from deep this season, but is known to get hot when needed. He currently holds the D-League record for most three-pointers made in a single game (15), courtesy of his stint with the Reno Bighorns during the 2014-15 season.
Pascal Siakam will also be on assignment from the Raptors 905 to add even more depth to their lineup, while CJ Leslie will continue to be a mainstay with his ability to both step out for a jumper and work inside on the post.
Meanwhile, the Canton Charge will have Key Felder on assignment. The 5-foot-9 guard will be a welcome addition after the loss of Quinn Cook, who is on a second 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Felder is averaging nearly 30 points per game while shooting 46% from the floor. His speed and quickness will help to be a spark plug for the Charge on the offensive side of the ball.
The frontcourt will be helmed by NBA veteran Eric Moreland. He averaged a double-double this season and is one of their key components on the glass as they will need to fight for rebounds against a much taller team like the 905.
Not to be outdone, the Charge have a Top-10 defense as well, allowing the 7th fewest points per game this season.
Along with Felder on the backcourt, John Holland will be a commanding presence for the Canton Charge. The Impact Player of the Year candidate is averaging over 22 points this season and helped turn their season around after the team struggled out the gate and was 6-7 to start the season. The Charge went 23-14 with Holland in the lineup.
Roosevelt Jones will also play a role against the physical 905. Jones, who has appeared in more games this season than any other member of the Charge (46), will be asked to guard multiple positions and use his strength to challenge on the glass much like Moreland. His performance could be the difference for the Charge in this playoff matchup.
- Larry Sanders was expected to join the Canton Charge for the playoff run, but due to the unexpected injury to Tristan Thompson, the Cleveland Cavaliers recalled him early Wednesday.
- Both teams like to fight for offensive boards as they rank 5th and 6th respectively this season on the glass.
- The Charge have made it to six consecutive postseasons (their entire existence since moving from Albuquerque, NM) but have yet to make it to Finals.
- The Raptors 905 are second in the D-League in blocked shots per game (6.3), while the Canton Charge average the fourth fewest blocks allowed (4.5).