The Santa Cruz Warriors snapped the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 10-game postseason winning streak in Game 1 of the D-League Finals with a 119-115 on April 23. The Warriors, who are making their third straight Finals appearance, will look to clinch the championship at home tonight.
Santa Cruz is seeking its first D-League championship — the franchise won the league crown as the Dakota Wizards in 2007 — while Fort Wayne is looking to become just the second team in D-League history to win back-to-back titles. Tipoff for Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. (ET) tonight and will be televised on ESPN U.
The Warriors took Game 1 despite getting off to a slow start and trailling by 20 points in the first quarter. After scoring 24 points in the opening frame, Santa Cruz topped the 30-point plateau in each of the last three quarters. The Finals victory was the first for the Warriors, who were swept in their previous two Finals appearances.
Second team All-D-League selection Elliot Williams continued his outstanding postseason play, tallying a game-high 31 points and dishing out eight dimes to lead the Warriors in Game 1. Mychel Thompson pumped in 24 points off the bench while Ognjen Kuzmic posted a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Taylor Griffin added 17 points. D-League Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Craft made each of his five shots, including all three from beyond the arc, to finish with 15 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
Ramon Harris was sensational for the Mad Ants, dumping in 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. NBA veteran Jordan Crawford finished with 24 points and 11 assists. Trey McKinney-Jones and Matt Bouldin added 17 points apiece while D-League All-Rookie selection C.J. Fair contributed 13 points and seven rebounds.
Fort Wayne made 18 of their 37 attempts from three-point range. Mad Ants head coach Conner Henry was happy that the team made 18 triples but wasn’t overly thrilled they took 37 shots from long range. However, he said the Mad Ants need to focus on the defensive end in Game 2.
“If we’re better on the defensive end, we win Game 2, then we go and play Game 3 and see what happens,” Henry said. “Film is a great teacher and guys will see that ‘I didn’t quite do my job on certain possessions,'” “There’s a lot of pride in that (locker) room. I have a good feeling we’ll come back and play a strong game.”
Santa Cruz played only seven players in Game 1 but received reinforcements when Golden State assigned James Michael McAdoo to Santa Cruz on Saturday. The second team All-D-League performer has played in one playoff game for Santa Cruz, posting 25 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and two steals in 34 minutes against Oklahoma Cityon April 10. McAdoo appeared in 33 regular season D-League games, averaging 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in 32.8 minutes.