Moncton two wins away from first title in franchise history
Photo Credit: Jacinthe LeBlanc
By José Colorado
For those involved in the NBLC Finals the number has come to represent something of the utmost importance.
As for the Moncton Magic – an organization that has openly tried to galvanize its fan base with various public spectacles over the past month- the digit symbolizes the number of remaining victories needed to capture the team's first championship in franchise history after taking a 2-0 (win-loss) lead against the St. John's Edge on May 11.
For the Edge, the number two has come to exemplify something much more ambiguous: how to stop the dynamic duo of Trey Kells and Billy White.
Through the first couple games in the championship round the pair have torched St. John's defense with both hitting for 20-plus points in each game.
When it comes to Finals MVP candidates the Moncton point guard Kells has established himself as the runaway candidate as he is currently averaging 29 points per game, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals on 53 per cent shooting from the floor.
White, nonetheless, has been stellar in his own right by way of a 21.5 points per game, seven rebounds, eight assists stat line on 48.48 per cent shooting.
Then there is Jason Calliste who has become an X-Factor of sorts off the bench as the only other Magic player to have hit double-digits in both matches.
Not only that but without his play in Gm.2 – where he dropped 26 points and five three-pointers including the dagger with 2:01 to play in the game – there is no way Moncton comes away unscathed from Avenir Centre.
JC for 3��— NBLCLive (@NblcLive) May 12, 2019
Jason Calliste hits one of his five from the arc late to help give the Magic a 2-0 series lead in @NBLCanada Finals��������
Back to the Rock in St. John's for games 3-4.@callmecali10 @TheMonctonMagic @CTVAtlantic pic.twitter.com/E4Ct2CcThX
And that leads us to the Edge.
On the one hand they have certainly played the Magic tough through the first two games.
In fact the club hasn't trailed by double-digits in the entire series despite playing Gm.1 sans its megastar Glen Davis (concussion protocol) and its starting big man Olu Ashaolu (knee) being shut down following the opening bout.
Steven Marcus' squad even led by as many as 17 points in Gm.2 before succumbing to the Magic's 36 -23 blitz in the final frame.
So there are signs of life.
However something must be done with White or Kell if the Edge is to truly challenge.
Just consider that not only have the pair led the charge when it comes to scoring but both have also been the top assist-leaders on its club in both matches, meaning not only are they, themselves, scoring at a high rate but they are also finding teammates for good looks.
Unsurprisingly that has translated in Moncton's team three-point percentage as the league's second-best long-distance shooting team has connected on 25-of- 67 (37.31 per cent) from downtown.
One or the other must be shut down.
Either allow Kells and White to get theirs, or blitz them by sending multiple help defenders and force others to hit shots.
But both can't be given up.
With a 2-0 deficit and already down a number of key bodies, it certainly will be a tall order for St. John's to win four of its next five to capture the championship.
But then again this is a team that has overcome adversity throughout the season and defied the odds to even be amongst the final two.
Gm.3 goes tonight at Mile One Centre.