The BBL Semifinals tip off Wednesday evening with the Newcastle Eagles hosting the Worcester Wolves.
The Eagles came through a tough series with the Bristol Flyers, winning by just 5 points, but winning both games, by 3 points on the road and 2 at home. The Flyers pushed the Eagles very close and had an incredible finish to game one when they scored 41 points against second seed Newcastle.
The Wolves series was even closer as they snuck past Sheffield by just 4 points, having won home and away, each game by 2 points. Trevor Setty settled the tie with a made free-throw with 9 seconds to go in the game, and the Sharks were unable to get a shot off during their final possession of the season.
The Eagles and Wolves have an even 5-5 record in their last ten matches. Fifth seed Worcester won the season series 2-1, including a win in Newcastle and a 29 point win at home in March. These two teams met last in playoffs in the 2013/14 Playoff Final, which was won 78-90 by Worcester.
The Eagles will need to limit the scoring of Danny Huffor if they hope to win this series. The shooting guard scored 23 points to lift the Wolves over the Sharks on Sunday, with Setty and Marek Klassen adding double digit scoring. The Wolves were out-rebounded by the Sharks by 14 rebounds, but their 11/27 shooting from three-point range is what propelled them to victory, scored well inside but were a shocking 47% from free throws.
The Eagles were lead on Sunday by center Darius Defoe who achieved a double-double with ten rebounds and 26 points as he bullied the Flyers in the paint. League MVP favourite Rahmon Fletcher was pivotal in the win with 20 points and 9 assists, but was terrible from 3 point range making just 1 of 6 attempts.
The Wolves know that they need to have their three-point game firing on all cylinders and from the first play on Wednesday as they will surely be beaten inside by the Eagles. The Eagles are likely to outrebound and outscore them in the paint, but the Wolves are in tremendous form and will rotate the ball and shoot efficiently. The Wolves will need to shoot better with Free Throws and avoid giving away fouls of their own as the Eagles are a good Free throwing team with 81% shooting on Sunday.
The opening game will be a close encounter and a clash of styles, with the efficient shooting of the Wolves taking on the volume scoring, and therefore conceding of the Eagles. The Wolves are my favourite to make the final, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles pull off the win, in a back and forth affair.