Can BTE and Villains Survive and Advance?

Jordan Cannon BTE.jpg

SUMMERLIN OPEN:  Final Four Predictions

By L.C. Comine | Summerlin Media Associate

6:30 p.m. - No. 4 AAO (1-7) vs. No. 1 BTE (8-0)

With a four team league this season we jump right into the final four and our first matchup will be the No. 4 seed AAO taking on the No. 1 seed BTE.  BTE is 2-0 against AAO this season and the last meeting between these two should give us all a reason to come watch this game.  BTE won the game 104-95, but this game was up for grabs with a few minutes left after BTE blew a 20-point halftime lead.  Coming into this game, BTE is the big favorite but you cannot overlook that AAO is playing much better and they are coming in off their first win of the season.  Plus AAO should have some confidence as the last time they shared the court with BTE they felt they should have won.  

BTE is winning but they haven’t been playing their best basketball of late.  Last week they fell behind to the Villains by over 20 points and that Villains team was without Chase and Kodiak.  However BTE seemed to find a spark in the second half last week.  Jordan Cannon and Andre McFarland are both playing like MVP’s and Edward Vaughns is the third option for this three-headed monster.  All BTE will have to do is bring the intensity from the tip and really focus on their defense.  Over the last few weeks it seems they have lost a little focus on defense and I am guessing GM Stefan will re-establish the focus on defense this week.  BTE will have no issues scoring as in the first two games against BTE they have scored 122 and 104 points respectively.

AAO has nothing to lose in this game.  They are not the favorite and should come into this game loose and confident.  They won their first game of the season last week and over the last three weeks they played BTE down to the wire and played the Villains close as well.  AAO needs to do exactly what they did in the second half of the last game against BTE and attack their zone.  AAO shot 47 percent from deep in that game and hit 17 3s.  If they are going to upset BTE they are going to need a similar performance.  AAO will need Mihail Kocevski to be aggressive early and often but he will also need to facilitate to Amer Haddad, Barrington Milner, and Bobby Mears.  John Murillo and Anthony Khotsikian will have to keep Andre, Nick Rainey, and Stefan off the glass and they both will have to play physical to attempt to throw BTE off their game.  AAO will need some breaks but if they can play their game and knock down the open shots then they will have a chance.

I do think this game will be close for awhile but BTE is going to be ready to go in this one.  Jordan Cannon has averaged 35.5 PPG in two games against AAO this season and look for him to exceed that in this one.  BTE has too much firepower for AAO who will not be able to stop BTE.  AAO will score but they will not be able to keep up with Cannon and company.  BTE moves on to defend their title next week.

Prediction: BTE- 107, AAO- 92

7:30 p.m. - No. 3 Livin’ The Dream (2-6) vs. No. 2 Villains (5-3) 

Our second final four game will matchup the No. 3 Livin The’ Dream squad taking on the No. 2 seed Villains.  This will be the third meeting this season between the two teams with the Villains winning the first two meetings easily.  This game will come down to a few things:  1. Will the Villains actually have their whole team show up?  2. Will Livin The’ Dream finally flip the switch on defense now we are in the playoffs?  

Don’t let the Villains 5-3 record fool you this season.  All three losses are to BTE and two of them came at the buzzer.  The Villains have slowly been getting a little better each week and the thing you have to realize they have yet to be at full strength this season.  This week there is a good chance you will finally see the lineup of Chase Skinkis, Dreu Johnson, Dave Murtha, Kodiak Yazzie, and Tij Von Nieda or Juan Carter.  That five is as good as any five in the league and the Villains bench should be dangerous as well led by Von Nieda or Carter.  If the Villains have their roster there, they are engaged, and ready to go then Dream will not have much of a shot.  The Villains want a shot to reclaim their title and they know they must take care of business against Dream in order to get that shot.  

Livin’ The Dream had a tough regular season going 2-6 and losing their last four to close out the regular season.  The Villains is one team they probably did not want to see since they have never defeated them.  In the two games against the Villains this season, Dream has given up 119 and 113 points.  They have no doubt scored enough to win more games but the defense for Dream has been awful.  If they give the same defensive effort this week they will have no shot.  I have confidence that John Lazosky and Duelle Gore will do some damage against the Villains especially Lazo who has scored 65 points in two games against the Villains.  The key though will be Gore in my opinion, he will be needed to take over and will have to do a lot more than he has done, last week he only had 10 shot attempts in a loss to AAO.  Gore needs to be more aggressive and set the tone on offense and defense.  

I expect Dream to play well in this game and possibly give the Villains some trouble early on.  I can see the Villains timing being off a bit since some of the key players haven’t played together in 2-3 weeks.  But in the end the Villains have too much for Dream and the issues Dream has had all season will continue.  Villains move on to the finals to face BTE in a rematch from last season’s title game.  

Prediction: Villains- 118, Livin’ The Dream- 91