The Austin Toros, on the strength of their perimeter shooting and ball movement, defeated the Canton Charge 90-68 in the deciding game of the semifinal round. The victory, their 37th of the season, will set up a Finals matchup between the No. 1 seed Los Angeles D-Fenders.
The only blemish on the Toros’ semifinal resume was an three-point overtime loss in Canton. The Toros squandered a four-point lead with 16.3 seconds after TJ Campbell (41.5 percent from behind the arc) knocked down a couple of key 3-pointers in a span of seven seconds. The lead changed six times in overtime but, ultimately, Canton’s starters proved to be too much for the Toros. Collectively, they combined for 93 points.
In the second game, the Toros defeated the Charge by 14 points. They did so because of their depth (53 bench points) and by moving the ball around (24 assists). Canton got to the line 10 more times in addition to their 13 board advantage. But their porous 44.4 percent shooting was their downfall.
Austin parlayed their 10-2 run to begin the first quarter into an effortless series clinching victory over the Charge. D-League Impact Player of the Year, Eric Dawson, scored 14 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. The MVP of the D-League, Justin Dentmon, actually had an off night, scoring seven points.
For the series, Julian Wright led the Toros with 19 points per game and 60.7 percent shooting. Cory Joseph, too, played well. Joseph averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists and 52.6 percent shooting.
The D-Fenders, who have yet to lose a playoff game, will face the Toros in Austin on Apr. 24 at 7:30 p.m. CST. Los Angeles has swept Bakersfield and Iowa, respectively, by an average of 9.3 points.
While the Toros came into the playoffs seeded third, they held the second best record in the D-League. Springfield, by virtue of their inferior conference, drew the No. 2 seed.
They have not beaten the D-Fenders this season, losing a back-to-back (both games in Los Angeles) by an average of 9.5 points.
The possibility of, say, a D-League title and an NBA title don’t seem so unlikely as of today.