4 Impact Players to Watch in the Playoffs
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn August 13, 2022
TUNE IN ON SUNDAY AT 3:30 PM EST FOR THE BIG3 PREGAME SHOW ON CBS OR PARAMOUNT PLUS. AT 4:00 EST ON CBS AND PARAMOUNT PLUS, TRILOGY WILL PLAY THE ALIENS IN THE FIRST SEMIFINAL MATCHUP. AT 5:00 ON CBS AND PARAMOUNT PLUS, THE 3 HEADED MONSTERS WILL PLAY POWER IN THE SECOND AND FINAL SEMIFINAL GAME.
Before Sunday’s Semifinal Games begin, let’s take a quick look at who the X-Factors for each team will be in the first round of the 2022 BIG3 Playoffs:
ALIENS: Deshawn Stephens
As the season has gone on, Stephens’ value to the Aliens has become more and more obvious. His breakout performance came in Week 4, when he put up a team-high 19 points and a ridiculous 19 rebounds against Trilogy, while also holding back Trilogy’s relentless paint attack.
As fate would have it, the Aliens will be playing Trilogy in Round 1. If they can get another dominant performance in the paint and on the glass from Stephens, their chances of advancing to the Finals will improve exponentially.
TRILOGY: Isaiah Briscoe
On the flip side of things, Isaiah Briscoe had what was almost certainly his worst game of the season when Trilogy played the Aliens in Week 4. He went 3-13 from the field, 0-4 from three-point range, and 2-9 from the free throw line. The latter was particularly egregious. You can’t leave 14 points on the line in a game of FIREBALL3 and expect good things to happen – for those of you keeping score at home, 14 is 28% of 50.
If Trilogy wants to punch their ticket to the Finals, they’ll need more than they got out of Briscoe in Week 4. He’ll either need to hit outside shots or find a way to consistently get inside and convert, and he definitely can’t shoot that way from the free-throw line again.
POWER: Glen Rice Jr.
I think Royce White is Power’s most important player, but Rice will be the X-Factor for this game. Power’s main strength is the combination of White and TJ Cline, which combines size, toughness, off-ball movement, and passing like no other frontcourt in the league.
However, Rice will be the one who needs to step up if Power wants a trip to Atlanta. Rice is the archetypical “walking bucket.” He’s not a dedicated spot-up shooter, or a pure slasher, or a high-flier. He’s just a guy who can score from anywhere on the court at any time, whether it’s with a jumper, a drive to the hoop, or a funky floater.
Even though he’s not a pure shooter, he is Power’s most potent outside threat. Cuttino Mobley plays limited minutes for Power these days, Royce White and Nikoloz Tskitishvili have made a total of zero three-point baskets this season, and while TJ Cline can hit the three if given space, he’d much rather be cutting to the hoop for a layup or going to his signature floater off the dribble than taking perimeter shots.
When Power played 3HM all the way back in Week 2, Rice had a solid game, going for 17 points and eight rebounds on 8-16 shooting. However, he went just 1-5 from three, and couldn’t stop Kevin Murphy from shredding Power’s defense. Rice Jr.’s defense has not looked like a strength of his game this season, but he’ll need to do all he can to slow down Kevin Murphy on Sunday.
3 HEADED MONSTERS: Kevin Murphy
Speaking of Kevin Murphy, he’s more or less the Alpha and the Omega for the 3 Headed Monsters at this point. He’s the league’s leading scorer, will likely win the 2022 MVP Award, and can single-handedly bury teams. Like Rice, Murphy is more of a pure scorer than a shooter or slasher – he can get buckets from anywhere at any time, and he does.
In the Week 2 matchup against Power, Murphy was able to score 23 points on 5-9 shooting from the field and 7-7 shooting from the line. He didn’t take a three, and missed the only four-pointer he took, but he was able to get into the teeth of the defense and score at will. If he can impose his will that way again and perhaps mix in a few buckets from the perimeter, he’ll likely send 3HM to the Finals.