Legacy Leagues Summer 2019 Playoffs: Quarterfinals (Monday, August 5th at 8pm)
#4 NickStrong (5-4) vs #5 Shocker City (5-4)
First Matchup: Shocker City defeated NickStrong, 76-72, in Week 2
Current Streak: Shocker City (L2), NickStrong (L1)
Highest Power Ranking: Shocker City – 1, NickStrong – 4
Standout Performers: Michael Vessicchio (NickStrong) is averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 40.3 percent from three. Carmine Santorelli (Shocker City) leads the league in assists (46) and is third in steals (23).
At the beginning of the season, if somebody predicted that Shocker City would wind up to be a number five-seed in the playoffs, that person would be called insane. However, with the Summer 19 Playoffs just over the horizon, Shocker City finds itself in an uphill climb, as they face a hungry NickStrong team in the Quarterfinals.
Having to face a two-time champion in the Quarterfinals is a tough break for NickStrong. The team would have faced the number six-seed, Sportslook, if they had won in Week 9. However, NickStrong lost to Scott’s Tots, 78-75.
Although the Weekly Rebound’s Connor Saucer has already predicted Shocker City to repeat as champions, don’t count out NickStrong just yet. This team is fiery and looking to make some noise in this season’s playoffs. Before losing in Week 9, NickStrong was one of the hottest team in the entire league, clawing out five-straight wins after starting the season 0-3.
Leading the league in total rebounds (331), NickStrong is a team that is hard to get a body on, as its physicality to get rebounds is second-to-none. With Shocker City missing big man David Armstrong due to injury, NickStrong is going to need to capitalize on chances in the post if they want to pick up a victory. However, if Shocker City’s Davon Pratt has a big game defensively, Shocker City could pick up the win.
The X-factor for NickStrong in this matchup is going to come down to a couple of key players: Chris Leak and Ryan Florentine. Leak is the team’s top scorer off the bench (14.5 PPG), and a vital piece of the team’s offense. When on the floor, he helps to spread the floor and always find the open man.
Florentine, on the other hand, is going to need to prove himself on the defensive side of the ball. He is a knockdown shooter, but can he defend players like Carmine Santorelli or Tarell Vargas? The performances of these two players could prove to be vital for NickStrong in the Quarterfinals.
Shocker City is coming into this matchup with vengeance on their mind: vengeance against all the haters who said they were done without Mike Davis. Although going through struggles all season, Shocker City still has the most playoff experience out of any other team. In simpler terms, they’ve been there, and done that. This team has three players that could lead teams on their own if they wanted to: Carmine Santorelli, Davon Pratt, and Tarell Vargas.
In order for Shocker City to pick up the win against a dangerous NickStrong team, these three key players are going to have to play as a team. Against the Flint Tropics in Week 9, Santorelli, the team’s point guard, only posted two points, his lowest mark of the season. Santorelli fell flat in a big game before, but he is going to need to have a star performance if his team wants to escape the Quarterfinals with a win.
Pratt is tenacious on defense, and is going to have to neutralize players like NickStrong’s Anthony Vessicchio. Vargas needs to have an outstanding game shooting the ball if he is going to be effective in this matchup, and Kintwon Miles will have to provide a key role playing off the bench.
This Quarterfinal game is going to be extremely hard-fought, and extremely physical. In the end, the determining factor is going to be which team was more successful in the low post. If NickStrong plays outstanding defense, they could pick up the win. If Shocker City comes out firing on all cylinders and plays as a team, they could advance to the Semifinals.