The Los Angeles D-Fenders will open the first round of their playoff quest against the opponent of their choice, and in the luxury of their home court in El Segundo, California. The odds are in the D-Fenders favor to roll through the competition and cap off their incredible season with a D-League championship. However, there may be a team that can knock off the D-Fenders, as they say, the season starts over once the playoffs begin, as the 38 wins that L.A. amounted during the regular season suddenly will disappear and be forgotten. Those 38 wins did help L.A. secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs where the D-Fenders have enjoyed success, posting a 21-4 record, their last loss dating all the way back to January against Bakersfield.
So out of the other 7 teams competing for the D-League championship whom stands a chance to knock off undoubtedly the league’s best team? Could it be Bakersfield? They did beat L.A. 4 times during the regular season splitting their 8 games overall with the D-Fenders. L.A. also dropped a game to the Dakota Wizards in the second game of the season, Dakota will be Bakersfield’s opening opponent so if the D-Fenders get past the Iowa Energy, the awaiting opponent will know that they can beat them.
Looking at the other three teams on L.A.’s side of the bracket, the most likely candidate to take down the D-Fenders is the aforementioned Bakersfield Jam. Even though the last time the Jam knocked off the D’s it was in Bakersfield and they will not have home court this time around, the Jam seem to have the tools to stay with the D’s. Perhaps the short break will help the Jam eliminate the reminder of getting beat by the Idaho Stampede in their final two contests. The Jam will need to play a perfect series to have any chance with the D-Fenders. Bakersfield could provide a speed bump in the D-Fenders trip to the finals, but most likely that is all they will be…a speed bump.
On the other side of the playoff bracket the Springfield Armor and Austin Toros seem like possible candidates to snatch the D-League crown from the D’s. Going strictly off their body of work it is difficult to judge how a series between L.A. and Austin would go. They played each other only twice during the regular season, both times it was the D-Fenders who came out victorious. The Toros have been a solid club all season long and perhaps the late addition of NBA veteran Ronald “Flip” Murray can help the Toros combat the NBA knowledge and experience the D’s have. It would be a drag out contest if these two lock up in the finals, but the D-Fenders would seem to be too much for Austin to handle.
Going chalk with it, the last seemingly hurdle for the D-Fenders would have to be the Springfield Armor. Springfield went 7-3 in their last 10 games and won 2-straight entering the postseason. If there is a roster as stacked as the D’s it is in Springfield. A series between these two starting fives would be a treat for D-League fans as there are some serious ballers on both sides. These two teams met at the D-League Showcase and the D-Fenders cruised to a 15-point win. Many of the same players remain for the Armor from that contest, but L.A. has quite a different lineup than what they rolled out with in Reno. This match-up would be Heat vs. Thunder in terms of a dream D-League match-up for fans. Despite the likely stiff competition the D-Fenders will receive, they have done nothing to prove otherwise that they will be the last team standing and crowned D-League champs.