How to Watch The Playoffs + Game Previews
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn August 12, 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.
It’s time. Four teams will play in Tampa Bay on Sunday, two teams will go to Atlanta to play for the 2022 BIG3 Championship, and two teams will have their season end. No more tiebreakers, just straight-up win or go home.
GAME 1: TRILOGY VS. ALIENS
Talk about a contrast of styles. Trilogy tells you what they’re going to do, dares you to stop them, and then does it anyway. They want to get the ball to the rim and beat teams up inside, and they’ve done it well enough to get them to the semifinals.
Isaiah Briscoe is the best guard in the league at getting into the paint and converting once he gets there. When Amir Johnson gets the ball down low, it’s all but over – he shot a tidy 66% from the field this season. Earl Clark is the closest thing Trilogy has to a floor-spacer, but even he’s more of a slasher than a shooter, and his main value is his defensive versatility. He can cover any position on the floor, finished second in the league in blocks, and set a new single-season steals record.
To put it simply, Trilogy is in the playoffs because they’ve owned the paint all year long.
The Aliens are all about finesse. They cut, they make the extra pass, they set off-ball screens, they fake screens, and when they’re at their best they seem to have almost a telepathic connection to one another.
They also take a high volume of threes to keep teams from packing the paint on them, but accuracy has been an Achilles’ heel for them. Co-Captain Karlis Lasmanis is an excellent cutter and passer and often finds himself open from beyond the arc, but he’s made just eight of the 32 three-point shots (25%) he’s taken this season. Captain Dusan Bulut has a beautiful stroke, but the results haven’t been there for him this season – he’s made 14 of the 46 threes (30.4%) he’s taken this season.
Trilogy and the Aliens met in Week 4, and the Aliens were able to come away with a 50-41 victory. The Aliens did not shoot well, going just 4-20 from three-point range, but Trilogy had an absolute nightmare day.
Trilogy went 18-51 from the field, 1-8 from three-point range, and just 2-12 from the free throw line. Isaiah Briscoe had a particularly miserable day, as he went 3-13 from the field, 0-4 from three-point range, and just 2-9 from the free throw line.
As stated above, the Aliens’ Plan A wasn’t working either – Dusan Bulut and Karlis Lasmanis combined to go 8-29 from the floor. Really, this game was a coming-out party for Deshawn Stephens, who finished with 19 points on 9-14 shooting and 19 rebounds, 9 of which came on the offensive glass. The Aliens finished the game with 15 offensive rebounds against 16 defensive rebounds for Trilogy, meaning it was essentially a coin-flip who would get the ball if the Aliens missed a shot.
Neither team played their best game in Week 4, so it’s hard to take away too much from that meeting. Trilogy will need to establish their inside game better than they did, hit more threes, and definitely hit more free throws. The Aliens will need to hit more outside shots to open up their motion-based offense. Again, this should be a matchup of bully-ball and finesse, and I can’t wait to see which style wins out.
GAME 2: POWER VS. 3 HEADED MONSTERS
Another fantastic matchup. Power is coming into this game with some nice momentum after beating the Aliens in both Week 6 and Week 8. Meanwhile, 3HM was the first team to clinch a playoff seed and perhaps didn’t give their best effort when they lost to Tri State in what was essentially a moot game.
Power’s M.O. is fairly well-known at this point. They have an incredible mix of size and skill in their frontline made up of Royce White and T.J. Cline, and when all else fails Glen Rice Jr. can make any shot from anywhere at any time. Recently, they’ve been getting contributions from Captain Cuttino Mobley in the form of a few outside shots to start each half and Nikoloz Tskitishvili finally finding his nasty streak and scoring inside, but the White/Cline/Rice trio is at the core of what they do.
Power looks to establish themselves inside, move without the ball, and reward each other with sharp passes right around the basket area. I can’t confirm this, but I would bet no team made more layups off of assists this year as Power did.
3HM, meanwhile, has found a true superstar in Kevin Murphy, the league’s leading scorer and favorite to win the 2022 league MVP award. Needless to say, he can absolutely fill it up, and 3HM feeds on both his shot-making and the respect he demands when he doesn’t shoot.
Captain Rashard Lewis can still make things happen from both the inside and the outside, mid-season additions Quincy Miller and Jamario Moon are both good shooters with good size, and the ageless Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is still good for a few pull-up jumpers per game.
When Power and 3HM met in Week 4, the 3 Headed Monsters were able to come away with a 50-44 win thanks in large part to Power not having an answer for Kevin Murphy. He scored 23 points on 5-9 shooting, and when he got into the paint Power could do nothing but foul him – 13 of his 23 points came from the free-throw line.
There wasn’t much perimeter shooting in their initial matchup – Power went 1-7 from three point range, while 3HM went 0-3 from three and missed the only four-pointer they took.
It should be noted that Rashard Lewis played a major role in 3HM’s victory. He scored 17 points on 7-10 shooting from the field, and combined with Murphy to score 40 of 3HM’s 50 points. Lewis missed several games in the middle of the season, and hasn’t been as assertive since his return – we’ll see if the former BIG3 MVP takes it up a notch with a trip to the Finals on the line.
Under the direction of Coach Nancy Lieberman, Power has been great at game-planning for their opponents and taking away their biggest strength, particularly in the latter half of the season. We’ll see if they can come up with a plan to stop Murphy, especially since defense isn’t a strong suit for Glen Rice Jr.
If Power can successfully slow Murphy down, I like their chances. If they can’t, 3HM will likely go to the Finals for the third time in the five-year history of the BIG3 and look for that elusive first Championship.