The long bombers on the St. John’s Edge got a lot of attention this year — they did, after all, lead all teams in the National Basketball League of Canada in three-point shooting — but it’s the team’s inside game in the paint that’s a big reason why the Edge and London Lighting are tied 2-2 in their second-round playoff series.
The teams play the critical Game 5 — it’s now a best-of-three conference final series — 7 o’clock Thursday night at Mile One Centre, before the series shifts to London, Ont., for Games 6 and, if necessary, 7 Sunday and next Tuesday at the Budweiser Gardens.
St. John’s knotted the series with a 123-110 win Monday night at Mile One. While Charles Hinkle and Coron Williams both had 28 points (Williams, by the way, was six-for-11 beyond the arc), not to be overlooked was a big game from the big man in the middle as 6-8 Ryan Reid scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
In the Edge’s other series win, Reid scored 15 points and registered eight boards in a 112-104 Edge victory last weekend in London.
“He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder,” said Edge coach Jeff Dunlap. “You have pride as a player, but we also had to get him the ball. It wasn’t a case of him not producing (prior to the playoffs). We weren’t going there.
“But based on how London is playing us, with the switching off on our guys, it’s opened up the middle of the floor so you have to go to Ryan. Now it’s up to him to do something with it, and he’s delivering.”
Reid, 31, appeared in 20 games for the Edge this season, scoring an average of 13.8 points.
A Florida State product, Reid was taken 57th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2010 NBA draft and was immediately dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He spent most of his first three pro years in the D-League, as the NBA's top developmental circuit was known at the time.
“It’s not like he’s just a one-dimensional scorer. He does what we call massaging the ball, taking a couple of dribbles, seeing what’s happening on the floor, and next thing you know the other team collapses and he fires it out to one of our marksmen. If you have that inside-outside complement, it makes for good basketball.”
St. John’s coach Jeff Dunlap on Edge forward Ryan Reid
However, he got a brief call-up to the Thunder in the middle of the 2011-12 campaign, appearing in five games. Since then, he’s played mostly in overseas leagues in France and Japan.
“The thing that I’ve been pleasantly surprised with,” said Dunlap, “is how well he passes the all. It’s not like he’s just a one-dimensional scorer. He does what we call massaging the ball, taking a couple of dribbles, seeing what’s happening on the floor, and next thing you know the other team collapses and he fires it out to one of our marksmen.
“If you have that inside-outside complement, it makes for good basketball.”
“Before I even got here,” said the Florida product, “I knew this was a three-point shooting team, so I’m just trying to help out a bit on the inside. That’s where my strength is.
“I think we have a good thing going right now as far as inside-out play goes. And we have other guys who can finish on the inside, too. We’ve got a good balance.”
This series pitting the Edge and defending champion Lightning isn’t for the faint of heart. Monday night, 64 fouls were called.
“It’s the way they play,” Dunlap said. “They’re physically tough, they’re mentally tough, they know what they can get away with.
“And they’re built like an Army tank.”
There have been times the Edge’s on court leader, Carl English, has looked every bit his 37 years, but Dunlap says his star guard is far from worn down.
“And that’s our jobs as coaches — to manage him properly, manage his minutes, even if he’s on a roll. Sometimes that’s hard because if he starts a game and he’s made three three-pointers, sometimes you want to keep him out there.
“But at the end of the day, you can’t over-extend any one stint of playing time. The difference playing him a four or five-minute stint vs an eight or nine-minute stint will dramatically impact him towards the end of the game. So we just need to stay on top of his minutes.”
Straight Edge Notes
Royce White, the former NBA first-round draft pick and NBL Canada MVP, had 32 points for the Lightning Monday. Overall, however, White had no impact on the game. Most of the time, White looked completely disinterested. “Whatever he does is totally on him,” Ryan Reid said of White. “It’s all about us being in right spots, and executing our game plan. Everything in our hands, even if he has a good game, or loses his mind or whatever. We cannot be concerned with that.” … Edge guard Alex Johnson left Monday’s game after suffering a head injury. The team had a day off Tuesday, and Johnson didn’t practice Wednesday, although he was scheduled to see a doctor in the afternoon. “If there’s a concussion,” said coach Jeff Dunlap, “we’ll have to see to what degree it is, what the protocol is. He really took a shot, but I guess there’s a difference between a concussion and a contusion. And if it’s just a contusion, if he just took a pop and it didn’t impact the brain, he’ll be okay” …