Sunday, March 28, 2010

Five big games ...

With Tulsa clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot, the 66ers control their own destiny as they play the final five games over the season over the next week. Three of those final five games are at home, but none of these final games are easy by any stretch. Let's take a look at the schedule.

Albuquerque (today at home) ... Maybe (on paper) the easiest game of the remaining schedule for the 66ers, today (like the rest of the games) figures to be a must-win for Tulsa. The 66ers won by 20 on Friday night and hope to keep the defense in high gear today. The Thunderbirds aren't the same offensive presence without Carlos Powell (now playing overseas) as they were when they beat the 66ers at the D-League Showcase, but Tulsa only needs to look back to the Bakersfield game to see that there's no time for slip-ups now.

Reno (Monday, at Reno) -- Here's hoping Coach Tibbetts and the guys like Reno, because this is their fifth game in Nevada this season. Tulsa and the Bighorns have split the previous four games. Reno has won four straight games, including two wins over a very good Maine squad, so the Bighorns are on a roll. They're also just percentage points behind the 66ers for the eighth playoff spot so a Tulsa loss means Reno controls their own fate while a Tulsa win puts some much-needed cushion between the two teams.

Austin (Wednesday, at Austin) -- Austin will be playing its second game in two nights as the Toros are hosting Los Angeles on Tuesday. As the current 3 seed, Austin has plenty to play for as Sioux Falls is trying to catch them for the third seed and is currently just two games back in the loss column. Tulsa holds a 3-2 edge in the series, but is just 1-2 against the Toros in Austin.

Iowa (Friday and Saturday at home) -- How's this for an intriguing way to end the season? Barring a collapse, Iowa will enter the two-game set as the D-League's top-seeded team ... and could even have clinched the #1 seed before pulling into Tulsa. It's possible that Tulsa could have much to play for in its final two games against the Energy while Iowa may have nothing to gain or lose. Could Iowa be willing to save its strength for the playoffs? If so, that could that be a huge plus for Tulsa. Also, if Iowa gets the top seed and Tulsa makes the playoffs, this could be a first-round playoff matchup as well ... so would that factor into the Energy's plans? Time will tell.

But that's down the road. The week-long test begins today with Albuquerque. One game at a time...

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