How to Watch the Championship + Game Preview and Analysis
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn August 20, 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, THE BIG3 ALL-STAR GAME WILL TAKE PLACE. AT 5:00 EST ON CBS AND PARAMOUNT PLUS, TRILOGY WILL PLAY POWER FOR THE 2022 BIG3 CHAMPIONSHIP.
Here we are. It’s the eve of the most bittersweet day of the year. On Sunday, the BIG3 will have its inaugural All-Star Game. Right after that we’ll see the culmination of a fantastic season of FIREBALL3 when Trilogy and Power go head-to-head for the 2022 BIG3 Championship. That’s the sweet part.
The bitter part is that after Sunday, we’ll have to wait all the way until next summer before we see another BIG3 game. It’s been a fantastic ride this season. I can’t wait for it to crescendo with what should be a spectacular Championship game. At the same time, I’m not sure I’m ready for the ride to end. C’est la vie.
GAME 1: THE ALL-STAR GAME
I’m extremely curious about how this will play out. All-Star games in other leagues tend to be fairly casual affairs unless things get close late. I don’t really know if the first All-Star game played under FIREBALL3 will be a similar affair.
I’d expect more audacious Alley-oops and four-point attempts than you’d get in a normal game. I also wouldn’t be surprised if both teams play harder than you’d expect them to in a normal All-Star game. The two teams will be coached by Tri State Coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Ghost Ballers Coach and Basketball Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin. If you’d like to see the full rosters for each squad, click here.
GAME 2: TRILOGY PLAYS POWER FOR THE 2022 BIG3 CHAMPIONSHIP
Ladies and gentlemen, this will be the main event of the evening.
In the Blue Corner, you have Nancy Lieberman’s Power squad, who are looking to return to the promised land after winning the Championship in 2018.
In the Red Corner, you have Stephen Jackson’s Trilogy squad. They are the reigning and defending BIG3 Champions, and they’re looking to become both the first three-time Champions in BIG3 history and the first back-to-back Champions in the history of the league. To borrow a phrase from Bruce Buffer, It’s Time.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time previewing this matchup already. Here’s what the 2022 Championship would mean to each of these teams. Here are breakdowns of the matchups between each teams’ scoring guards, swingmen, and big men.
After all that, I’ll keep this (relatively) short and sweet. This game is going to come down to paint control. Trilogy likes to establish paint control with sheer force. Isaiah Briscoe will happily run through you, Earl Clark can get well above the rim, and if Amir Johnson gets the ball near the basket, he’s going to put the ball through the hoop and put his defender into the first row. This team plays bully-ball, and they do it darn well.
Power also greatly prefers the paint to the perimeter. They rely more on ball movement than straight-ahead drives to get the ball where they want it. Trilogy tries to go through you, while Power tries to pass it around you.
No team in the BIG3 has a combination quite like the tandem of Royce White and TJ Cline. White is carved out of granite and uses all 260 of his pounds to great effect while constantly looking for open teammates. Meanwhile, Cline is constantly in motion, and when he manages to slip a screen or beat his man with a cut White is always ready to reward him with a pass for a layup. Also, when the shot isn’t there for Cline, he’ll gladly move it to a teammate and then continue looking for open space at full speed.
Both teams have counters to each other’s strengths. Defensive Player of the Year Earl Clark is on a one-man mission to disprove the old saying that a moving ball is always faster than a moving player, and his ability to clog passing lanes or block a shot from an odd angle borders on omnipresence.
On Power’s side of things, there’s the aforementioned Royce White. Not only does he have a big body with a low center of gravity, but he takes each attempt to score on him personally. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to take a head off of Mount Rushmore than push Royce White around down low. Also, TJ Cline is never afraid to mix it up – he played the second half of the semifinals with stitches in his lip and a streak of dried blood running down his chin. Defense isn’t Glen Rice Jr.’s forte, but he does stand at 6’6, and is capable of getting off the floor in a hurry to make season-saving blocks.
When I asked Power Coach Nancy Lieberman earlier this week what the main reason for the team’s turnaround from starting the season at 2-3 to riding a four-game winning streak into the Finals, she pointed to the team’s commitment to defense. Power will have to stay staunch at that end, because Trilogy’s ruthless forays to the rim will come early and often.
The X Factor for both of these teams is their perimeter game. As stated above, both Power and Trilogy prefer to do their business at the rim, but they are capable of making outside shots.
Trilogy’s advantage is that they’re so dominant inside that defenses are forced to concede outside shots to Isaiah Briscoe and Earl Clark. Neither player is a knock-down shooter, particularly from three-point range (Clark is pretty deadly on long twos), but they can knock down open shots when given the chance. When they do hit those shots, guarding Trilogy becomes a nearly impossible task.
Meanwhile, if Power’s plan to use ball movement to get looks at the rim doesn’t work out, they have a solid plan B in BIG3 Rookie of the Year Glen Rice Jr., who can best be described as an offense in a can.
From the four-point line to the rim, Rice can make any shot at any time against any coverage. Catch-and-shoots, pull-ups, drives to the rim for layups, fadeaways, contested floaters, you name it – if he gets his eyes on the rim, he has the ability to put the ball through it.
He’s the main reason Power was able to get through the 3 Headed Monsters in the Semifinals – the ball wasn’t moving for Power the way it usually does, but Rice scored 26 of the team’s 51 points, including the game-winner, and got the last laugh against BIG3 MVP Kevin Murphy in an epic duel between two of the best pure scorers in the league.
There you have it. This game is going to be physical, bitterly contested, and may feature some spectacular shot-making. On Sunday, it’s going to be two teams who have earned their Championship opportunity playing one game to 50 points (as long as they win by two) for the BIG3’s ultimate prize.
Folks, it doesn’t get better than this. Make sure you tune in.