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NBA D-League Playoffs 2017: RGV Vipers Defeat OKC Blue, 2-1

By Doug Ammon | April 19, 2017

SERIES SCHEDULE

Game 1: Oklahoma City 112, Rio Grande Valley 108 | Thursday 4/13 | Box Score
Game 2: Rio Grande Valley 118, Oklahoma City 105 | Sunday 4/16 | Box Score
Game 3: Rio Grande Valley 114, Oklahoma City 102 | Wednesday 4/19 | Box Score

GAME 3: VIPERS 114, BLUE 102

Player of the Game: Vipers F Kyle Wilter — 28 points, 12 rebounds

Play of the Game: Darrius Morris drops a dime on the assist

GAME 2: VIPERS 118, BLUE 105

Player of the Game: Vipers F Kyle Wilter — 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5-for-8 from 3-point range

Play of the Game: Isaiah Taylor drives hard on the baseline and rises for powerful one-hand slam

GAME 1: BLUE 112, VIPERS 108

Player of the Game: Blue C Dakari Johnson — 27 points, 10/19 FG, 8 rebounds

Play of the Game: In a game of threes, OKC’s Kameron Woods took it to the rim in transition from Reggie Williams

SERIES PREVIEW

The NBA D-League’s Western Conference Finals will look a lot like one of the most intriguing NBA Western Conference first-round matchups. The Vipers and Blue will meet to decide who represents the West in the D-League Finals at the same time as their NBA affiliates, the Rockets and Thunder, square off to start their quests for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

This D-League series will be yet another chapter in the timeless debate over which reigns superior, effective offense or stifling defense. The Vipers come into the series boasting the D-League’s top ranked regular-season scoring offense (120.1 ppg). This team also didn’t miss a beat offensively in the first round against the D-Fenders, as its 129.1 points per game led the entirety of the playoff field and resulted in a 2-1 series victory.

On the other hand, the Blue have made their mark on the defensive side of the court. OKC held opponents to the second-fewest points per game during the regular season (101.8), and the 43.7% shooting that opponents put up against OKC was the third-lowest mark in the D-League.

Expect to see the two teams looking to score in very different ways. The Vipers will hope to play through dynamic floor general Darius Morris. The 6-4 guard and NBA journeyman averaged 26.0 points and 7.7 assists per game in RGV’s first-round series against the D-Fenders. He has an exceptional mid-range game and isn’t afraid to shoot from behind the arc. Morris is the engine behind the Vipers’ well-rounded offensive onslaught.

For OKC, it’s all about big man Dakari Johnson. The Kentucky product averaged a double-double in the team’s opening-round series against the Warriors (27.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg), showcasing his dominance around the rim on both ends of the floor. The 7-footer will again hope to use his frame to get high-percentage shots and quality looks in the West Finals. Johnson leads a trio of Thunder draft picks on the Blue roster, playing alongside versatile forwards Daniel Hamilton and Josh Huestis.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dakari Johnson, C, Oklahoma City Blue

Daniel Hamilton, G/F, Oklahoma City Blue

Reggie Williams, G/F, Oklahoma City Blue

Darius Morris, G, RGV Vipers

Jaron Johnson, G/F, RGV Vipers

Chris Johnson, G/F, RGV Vipers

 

MEET THE BLUE

NBA Affiliate: Oklahoma City Thunder

Regular Season Record: 34-16

Key Stat(s): The Blue posted the best Defensive Rating (100.3) and Net Rating (4.8) in the Western Conference during the regular season.

MEET THE VIPERS

NBA Affiliate: Houston Rockets

Regular Season Record: 32-18

Key Stat(s): Like the Rockets, the Vipers finished top five in Offensive Rating, three-point field goal attempts and effective field goal percentage.

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