Before I get into the Austin Toros, specifically, here is a primer on the innovative NBA D-League playoff format (courtesy of the D-League website). In all honesty, it would be positively riveting if the Spurs were able to choose their first round opponent and, therefore, more enticing for the Spurs to clinch the No. 1 overall seed.
— Eight teams make the postseason — the top team in each conference, followed by the next six teams, by record (regardless of conference).
— The top three teams ‘draft’ their first-round opponents from the bottom four Playoff teams: No. 1 overall seed gets first pick; No. 2 gets second, No. 3 gets third.
— Teams cannot draft a first-round opponent from the top 4 (ie: Top 4 teams must play bottom 4 teams).
— Once bracket is set, it does not re-seed.
With their 10-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Springfield Armor — Eric Dawson and Cory Joseph combined for 39 points on 16-of-29 shooting — the Toros officially clinched the No. 3 seed in the D-League playoffs.
The Toros await the selection of the Los Angeles D-Fenders (38-12) and the Springfield Armor (29-21) — the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively — before they are allowed to pick their first round opponent. Because the Toros are in the same conference as the D-Fenders, they do not qualify for the No. 2 seed even though they have five more victories than the Armor.
The Toros, who have won 10 out of their last 11 games, have defeated their opponents by an average of 18.8 points. Newly minted Toro Cory Joseph has played well in 14 games, averaging 32.9 minutes, 13.8 points, 5.1 assists and 1.3 turnovers including the honor of D-League Performer of the Week during Mar. 19-25.
If the D-Fenders and Armor stay true to form and select the seven and eight seeds — which isn’t exactly a sure thing — the Toros will choose from the Bakersfield Jam (28-22) and Erie Bayhawks (28-22).
And, given those two choices, the Toros’ decision should be relatively easy. Austin beat the Bayhawks by 23 points in their only meeting this year while they are 0-2 against Bakersfield, losing by an average of 4.5 points.
Should Los Angeles or Springfield go a different direction, Austin has also played well against the Canton Charge (28-23) and Idaho Stampede (25-25), winning six out of seven games by an average of 15.3 points.
The D-League playoffs officially begin April 10th.