Feeling antsy about the Spurs and Mavs? Wishing that Game 1 was RIGHT NOW so all the analysis and prognostication and anxiety would stop and the action would begin? Ready to crawl out of your skin at the idea of having to wait until Sunday night, that's nearly three days from now, holy moly, how am I supposed to live like this?
Well, I have the antidote. Your Austin Toros, the D-League's model franchise and incubator of the Spurs future is about to open their second-round series of playoff games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and it promises to be a tough competition. Between the two teams, there will be at least 5 NBA-level players on the court. So bring your chairs 'round in a circle, kids, and let me tell you what's going down:
The series opens in Austin tomorrow afternoon, and you can be assured that honchos in both the Spurs and Rockets organizations will be paying attention. These teams played each other seven times in the regular season and the Toros took only two of those games. But this is the D-League, and the Vipers have lost some key players (the only way you like to lose players--via promotion to the bigs), while the Toros have Alonzo Gee and Curtis Jerrells back (with those coveted initials "NBA" after their names on the roster). The Toros also have Marcus Williams, and there's a lad named Luke Bonner (Gossamer's younger brother--I'd call him the Pocket Rocket, but the man is 7'1") coming off the bench at center.
The Vipers, on the other hand, used to have a player by the name of Garrett Temple. Familiar with him? Yeah, now you're starting to understand why they were the best team in the D-League, aren't you. (And he's OURS, all OURS, haaaaaaahahahahaha!) They don't have him now, obviously, but they do have Houston Rocket and candidate for D-League MVP Mike Harris, and Antonio Anderson has returned to the team from Thundercluster land. The Vipers are a formidable team.
Let's take a quick look at the rosters:
|Sean Barnette||G, F||6-5||220||Wingate|
|Mickell Gladness||C||6-11||230||Alabama A&M|
|Ernest Scott||F||6-7||225||Valdosta State|
|Jonathan Wallace||G||6-1||185||Georgetown, D.C.|
Harris had been called up from RGV to the Rockets, and was then assigned back to the Vipers for the third and final game of their first-round series against the Reno Bighorns for the sole purpose of getting the team to the semifinal round. Mission accomplished.
Alonzo Gee came this close to joining the Washington Wizards, but got back to Austin (on assignment from the Spurs) in time to help them beat . . . the Wizards. Of the Dakota variety, that is. In the three-game series against Dakota, Gee averaged 23 ppg, with teammate and fellow Spurs assignee Curtis Jerrells averaging 26.
We sure are going to miss Dwayne Jones in this series--but at least the Vipers are lacking a dominant big man. So are we, so get ready for some running and some gunning.
Game one will be aired live on Versus at 2 pm Spurs time. Check out the highlight video below for a little preview of what to expect from Gee and Jerrells.