The Sioux Falls Skyforce is celebrating its 25th anniversary season with a 15th playoff appearance. The Force closed the regular season with six consecutive wins, and plays Canton in the opening round of the NBA D-League playoffs.
A late-season surge earned the Skyforce more than just a playoff spot; it brought Sioux Falls the fourth-seed, home-court advantage, and confidence as the team prepares for Canton.
"Pretty confident about it. We just want to go in and prepare well. We've been doing that the last couple of days, and we want to go in and get the first win," Skyforce Guard Tre Kelley said.
"We're looking forward to it. Obviously, it's going to be a really good series. We know how good they are, how tough they are, and obviously, to go win on the road is tough at any point in the season, especially the playoffs, but it's something that we've got to do, and we look forward to it," Skyforce Head Coach Pat Delany said.
Sioux Falls won the season series with Canton, and is the higher seed, but as Delany mentioned, will open the playoffs on the road.
"I like things that are different. Going into Sunday, not knowing who is going to choose who, and obviously, going on the road for game one. It makes it tougher on the home team, but at the same time, you love that competitive edge, and that competitiveness that you're going to need to get a road win before you even worry about coming back home," Delany said.
"We just can't look forward to going down there and not playing well, losing, and coming back here, dependent on our home crowd to win us a ballgame. We've got to go down there and focus defensively, and try and win that ballgame," Skyforce Guard DeAndre Liggins said.
It'll be a battle of wills Thursday, as the Charge attempts to pound the paint, while the Skyforce runs the floor, looking to escape Canton with a win.
"We go up 1-0, come back home to have two opportunities to close it out and go to the next round. That's as big as you can get," Kelley said.
"Not take anything for granted. No possessions, no games, every minute, every repetition has to mean something to us, and we're looking forward to the challenge on the road Thursday night in Canton," Delany said.
In addition to opening on the road, the other twist Delany mentioned is the top-seeds chose their opponent. Number one Fort Wayne selected eighth-seeded Reno, but second-seeded Los Angeles chose sixth-seeded Santa Cruz, while the three-seed, Iowa, picked fifth-seeded Rio Grande Valley, leaving Sioux Falls with seventh-seeded Canton.