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Regular season is done, but many different playoff scenarios facing team depending on results this week
How tight are the standings in the National Basketball League of Canada’s Central Division?
Well, the St. John’s Edge have finished their regular-season schedule, but still have no idea of who they’ll face in the first round of the playoffs, and whether they’ll own home-court advantage when doing so.
Heck, there’s still a chance the Edge could finish first in the division, even though they’re currently in third place and have no games remaining.
The situation would have been clearer had not St. John’s closed out its regular season in exciting fashion Sunday afternoon at Mile One Centre, where they beat the Island Storm 121-116 in overtime.
Divisional standings are based upon win percentage, and Sunday’s result leaves the Edge (21-19. .525) just behind the Sudbury Five (21-18, .538) London Lightning (20-18, .526).
The Five, by the way, downed the defending champion Lightning 116-108 in Sudbury on Sunday,
So here’s the head-spinning setup:
- If Sudbury loses to the K-W Titans on Wednesday, and London doesn’t win either of its remaining games — Friday and Sunday against the Windsor Express — then the Edge will finish in first place. Yes, that would mean St. John’s and Sudbury would have identical records, but the Edge have the advantage in the first tiebreaker, having won two of three games against the Five this season.
- If Sudbury loses Wednesday, and London wins one or both of its remaining games, then the Lightning get the first place, St. John’s will be second and have home-court advantage over the Five in the playoffs’ opening round. Even if London, St. John’s, and Sudbury all finish with 21-19 records — which is a real possibility — it’s the Lightning who will claim top spot, having the advantage over both the Edge and Five in tiebreakers.
- If Sudbury beats the Titans, and London splits against the Express, then the Five get first and the Lightning will finish second and face the third-place Edge in the first round.
- If Sudbury beats K-W, and London wins its two games against Windsor, then the Lightning get first, while Sudbury will be second and have home-court advantage versus St. John’s in the first round.
- Tangly enough? Well, we haven’t even got into fourth place in the division, still up for grabs between Windsor and K-W.
Sunday at Mile One Centre, the Edge bested the Storm 12-7 in overtime, when Murphy Burnatowski and Shaquille Keith did all the scoring for St. John’s, each putting up a half-dozen points in the extra frame.
It was part of a 35-point game for Burnatowski, who added 10 rebounds during 45 minutes of floor time.
Keith also had a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) while coming off a very short bench for the Edge. St. John’s, dressing only eight players, was without regular starters Glen Davis, Junior Cadougan and Olu Ashaolu, all nursing injuries, and was already operating with an 11-man roster, one short of the normal total.
The situation was such that the St. John’s starting lineup Sunday included guard Jarryn Skeete, making his first start of the season, centre Satnam Singh (his second) and Jared Nickens, who earned his third start of 2018-19, all coming within the last week.
Nickens had 18 points Sunday, all on three-pointers, Skeete delivered 15 and Russell Byrd joined Keith with a big boost from the bench, contributing 19 points to the cause.
The Charlottetown, P.E.I.-based Storm, who were led by Tyree White’s 34 points, had trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter, but battled back, even holding a five-point lead with just over two minutes left in regulation.
After Skeete hit a three-pointer and Keith made a layup to tie the game at 109-109, the Island squad had a couple of chances at winning it in the dying seconds. However, shots by White and Robbie Robinson didn’t fall, sending the game into overtime, where neither scored for the first two minutes.
But Burnatowski would eventually hit a couple of three-pointers and Keith, who frequently found himself at the free-throw line in the late going, also came through, hitting all six of his attempts from the charity stripe in OT.
Robinson had 28 points and former Edge forward Guillaume Boucard chipped in with 24 for the Storm (11-26), who will finish in last place overall in the 10-team league, but nevertheless gave the Edge all they could handle on the weekend, having defeated St. John’s 128-103 on Saturday.