The Halifax Hurricanes have a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball League of Canada final with the London Lightning after a 100-91 victory in Halifax. The series moves to Budweiser Gardens for game three of the best-of-seven final tonight, and the Lightning will have to improve on a lacklustre effort in Game Two, or what was supposed to be an epic championship, could be over in four.
London looked listless and tired in the last game; but neither team was sharp, so the game was still ripe for the picking. The Lightning just never got things going, and while tied at half-time, they were chipping away at a Hurricanes lead for almost the entire game. Halifax outscored them by nine in the third, and that ended up being the final difference.
A series billed as the battle of the two titans, has been disappointing so far, and the Lightning just haven’t seemed to get into much of a rhythm so far in the finals.
Is it the pressure to repeat?
The loss of their star player to suspension?
Are they out of gas?
Whatever it is that ails them, they’ll have to get off the pot for the games at Budweiser Gardens, or the Hurricanes are going to end up celebrating their second championship in three years, in front of a disappointed London crowd.
It won’t be any easier if Ryan Anderson can’t go. He hurt his ankle in the third quarter of Game Two and went straight to the dressing room. He didn’t return, and although he was walking on it by the end of the game, Anderson is questionable and will be a game-time decision.
Marcus Capers was also unavailable on Tuesday, due to a sore neck.
Whatever lineup Lightning head coach Keith Vassell has to work with, he’s going to have to find a way to inject some energy into the squad. If they can come out gunning on home court tonight, and get off to a better start, that should allow them to play with the flow that they’re used to, and not have to play from behind and force shots. Let the Hurricanes see if they can match that high octane offence after travelling half-way across the country.
If Vassell can calm the team’s nerves, and have them play their type of basketball, there’s no reason the Lightning shouldn’t take their first game of the series.
If they can’t, then the Lightning’s attempt at a second consecutive championship, and fourth in franchise history, is going to get struck down.
Tip off is at 7:00pm at Budweiser Gardens. Tickets are available at the box office.