2019 BIG3 basketball playoffs: Championship game set, Joe Johnson shows why he's MVP, other key first-round takeaways
The Triplets will play against the Killer 3s for the BIG3 championship next weekend
The BIG3 is officially down to two title contenders as the first round of the postseason eliminated two more teams and set the table for next week's championship. In the first postseason matchup of the day, the Killer 3's earned their spot in the championship game with a 50-42 win over defending champion Power. Meeting them there will be the Triplets, who punched their own ticket with a 50-39 victory over the 3 Headed Monsters.
The two teams did not meet up in the regular season, though Triplets would appear to have the advantage. Not only did they outscore opponents by an average of over 10.1 points per game in their seven victories, but the Killer 3s knocked off the only team that beat them during the regular season in Power. But their battle is still a week away. For now, let's focus on the key takeaways from the semifinals.
Killer 3's 50, Power 42
1. Team play wins the day for Killer 3's once again: The Killer 3's have played team basketball all season. Nobody averaged more than 16 points per game for them during the regular season, and sure enough, it was teamwork that got them into the championship. Stephen Jackson and Donte Green both put up 13 points, while C.J. Watson wasn't far behind with 12. That teamwork is going to be essential next week when they challenge MVP Joe Johnson and his Triplets.
2. There will be a new champion ... again:
Parity is prevalent in the BIG3. The league is now three years old, and for the third consecutive season, there will not only be a new champion, but a new runner-up as well. Trilogy, the 2017 champion, missed the playoffs while the 2017 runner-up 3 Headed Monsters lost to Triplets on Sunday. Defending champion Power was taken out in this game, while last year's runner-up, 3's Company, missed the playoffs and fell to Bivouac in the Fifth-Place Game.
No matter what happens next weekend, this league will have a new champion and a new runner-up. Considering how dynastic the NBA tends to be when it comes to doling out titles, the overwhelming parity of the Big3 is a welcome change of pace.
3. Corey Maggette went cold: The 2018 MVP was the BIG3's second-leading scorer per game this season at 19.6 points per game, but he put up only nine in this game. Power couldn't replace his scoring, as their leading scorer was Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who provided only 12 points.
Triplets 50, 3 Headed Monsters 39
1. Joe Johnson looked the part as the MVP: Iso Joe is unstoppable. The former NBA All-Star was named the BIG3 MVP this week, and he more than lived up to that title on Sunday. Not only did he score 26 points, more than half of his team's total, but he nailed this 3-pointer to clinch the game for the Triplets.
2. What happened to Reggie Evans? Like he did in the NBA, Reggie Evans owned the boards in the BIG3 this season. He led the league with 10.9 per game, while no other player topped 8.3. In this game, however, he finished with only two. So what happened? Johnson happened. Evans was forced to defend the MVP for most of this game, and that took away one of his team's greatest strengths. Rashard Lewis and Mario Chalmers compensated, but it wasn't enough to keep the Triplets out of the championship game.
3. The Als are alright: Johnson gets most of the credit, but nearly as essential to the Triplets' dominance are Al Jefferson and Alan Anderson. They performed their roles spectacularly in this game. Anderson spaced the floor, while Jefferson was strong around the rim as usual.
Jamario Moon seemingly injured his hamstring late in the game, and no other player scored for the Triplets in this one. They are going to have to rely heavily on their three-man core in the championship game. Fortunately, it is more than just Johnson. The Triplets have a diverse trio that checks off just about every box.
Johnson finished with 28 points and hit the championship-winning 3-pointer
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