Cheshire Phoenix vs Leicester Riders – PREVIEW
by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix (7th seed) will play a two-legged series against the Leicester Riders (2nd seed) in the first round of the Benecos BBL Play-Offs.
The Nix will host the first leg at home, on the 4th May, 7:30pm tip-off while the second leg will tip off at 4pm the following day in Leicester.
Ben Thomas’ side made the playoffs after winning four of their last five games, which included two incredible triumphs in the capital against the Lions and the Royals. The Nix started their winning form with an impressive display against local rivals, Manchester Giants and capped off their run with a commanding win over the Wolves during the last day of the regular season. The Nix will look to bring their winning mentality and togetherness into the first round of the play-offs.
The Riders secured a play-off berth some time before the season came to a close, as they finished in the second seed with 24 wins, just three short of the Lions. Rob Paternostro’s side finished the season strong, they won seven of their last 10 games. During those last 10 fixtures they faced the Nix twice, splitting the games.
The Riders will have some dangerous weapons during the series. Tim Williams lead his team in points-per-game and rebounds-per-game so the Nix will look to slow him down in order to get an advantage on their opponents. JR Holder is also a good scorer, the forward averaged a cool 14.7 points per game in the regular season and he’ll look to inflict the same damage on the Nix. Conner Washington is Leicester’s playmaker, the point-guard averaged 4.1 assists-per-game. Saturday’s visitors rested their starters in their last regular-season game against the Lions so they’ll be fully refreshed and ready to take on the hosts at the Cheshire Oaks Arena.
Daniel Norl finished the season in fine form, he consistently scored 20+ points during the home stretch. The guard will be very important to the Nix, if his shots start falling early, the Riders will have trouble all night trying to slow him down. C.J Gettys has been an integral part of the team this season and he will need to create and convert second chance opportunities for Phoenix to have the best chance of winning. Momcilo Latinovic led the league in 3PT made and 3PT%, the forward will look to replicate his regular-season form in the play-offs. The team defeated the Riders by 15 points on the road not too long ago, in that game they played unselfishly and shot a great percentage from the field. They must do the same on Saturday & Sunday in order to advance to the next round. Everyone will have to contribute.
BRING THE NOISE! GO PHOENIX!