2014 Drew League – The Race for Eight: The Competition for Last Playoff Spot in Week 11

By: Law Murray

Week 10 of the 2014 season of the Drew League did a lot to solidify the playoff picture. Five teams clinched playoff berths: Problems, La Familia, Sky Ryse, The Clozers, and C.A.B.C. The only one of those teams to lose in Week 10 was Sky Ryse, but LA Loop’s loss to Tradition clinched a playoff spot for Sky Ryse.

Alas, there is only one playoff spot remaining. In the Kenny Brunner Division, all eight spots have been clinched: Jaguars, Cheaters, M.H.P., Hank’s New Image, Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars, Problems, La Familia, Sky Ryse. In the Mike Brown Division, seven teams have clinched a playoff berth: NWA (clinched top seed), C.O.A., Citi Team Blazers, Salvatori’s Nova Stars, Hank’s Cheaters 2, The Clozers, and C.A.B.C. One game separates the current 2-seed and the current 7-seed.

In addition to LA Loop, Week 10 was the final nail in the coffin for several teams as far as their playoff hopes are concerned. A.P.N.G. needed a win to stay alive – they lost to Cheaters. Hard Times needed a win to stay alive – they lost to the Jaguars. Hank’s Panthers needed a win to stay alive – they lost to SoleClinics, in excruciating fashion. Somehow, Hank’s Panthers is on a five-game losing streak. The losses have come by 1, 1, 3, 1, and 2 points. If they won one of those five close games, they’d be alive in the playoff race.

Now, the SoleClinics win did more than knock the Panthers out. In Week 10, Hank’s Bulldogs defeated Salvatori’s No Shnacks 65-62, behind PF Tyrone “Five-O” Riley’s 19 points and nine rebounds. For No Shnacks, it was their first game without PG Sango Niang, and it showed, as they only scored 40 points in the first three quarters vs. Bulldogs.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, No Shnacks scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and kept the Bulldogs’ margin of victory to three. SoleClinics’ win over the Panthers was their first on the court victory since beating Hank’s Bulldogs 83-80 in Week 4. Their Week 8 “consolation win” against The Clozers (a game in which The Clozers won 107-84, but unknowingly used Robin Hood Project SF Marc Wilson illegally for four minutes) is why they are 5-5 and in control of their playoff destiny, instead of 4-6.

So how does that hurt the Bulldogs? The three teams competing for the last spot in the Mike Brown Division are SoleClinics (5-5), Salvatori’s No Shnacks (4-6), and Hank’s Bulldogs (4-6).  Salvatori’s No Shnacks will play SoleClinics at 4:30pm Saturday. Hank’s Bulldogs will play 2-7 Kings of LA at 6pm Sunday. Here are the possible scenarios at work for the 8th seed, and why the Bulldogs hurt their chances despite the win:

  • If SoleClinics wins, they will clinch the final playoff spot.
  • If No Shnacks wins and Bulldogs lose, No Shnacks will clinch the final playoff spot.

Those are simple. This next one is not: If No Shnacks wins and Bulldogs wins, all three teams would be tied with a record of 5-6. Because all three teams played each other, Commissioner Dino Smiley said that a three-way tie would be determined by the point differential between SoleClinics/Bulldogs from Week 4, Bulldogs/No Shnacks from Week 10, and No Shnacks/SoleClinics from Week 11.

Unfortunately for Hank’s Bulldogs, their three-point win over No Shnacks is countered by their three-point loss to SoleClinics, leaving their point-differential at 0. What this means is:

  • If No Shnacks beats SoleClinics by one or two points AND Bulldogs win, SoleClinics would clinch a playoff berth based on having a better point differential than No Shnacks and Bulldogs.
  • If No Shnacks beats SoleClinics by at least four points AND Bulldogs win, No Shnacks would clinch a playoff berth based on point differential.
  • If No Shnacks beats SoleClinics by exactly three points AND Bulldogs win, all three teams would be tied at 5-6 with an equal point differential. This would be the only scenario where the Bulldogs are not eliminated before their game, and an additional tiebreaker would be determined later. Dino has said that he would prefer not to schedule additional play-in games, so it will be interesting to see what would happen if this last scenario plays out.

In another related matter, playoffs start Friday, August 1. The top seeds are tentatively scheduled to play that night; earning that top seed will give those two teams the option to play Friday or Saturday in the first round. NWA clinched in the Mike Brown Division, while Jaguars have the tiebreaker over Cheaters at 8-2 while holding a one-game lead on M.H.P. and Hank’s New Image.  Saturday, August 2 will be the rest of the first round games, while Sunday, August 3 would be the divisional semifinals.

Saturday, August 9 would be the two Divisional Championship games, while the 2014 Drew League Championship is scheduled for Sunday, August 10.

It will be an incredible weekend at The Drew. Keep in mind, this 8th seed isn’t just for show – the 2013 Drew League Championship featured the 8th-seeded teams from both divisions. Ironically, Kings of LA lost to the Blazers in that title game, and they will have a role in determining just how complicated things will get for the next 8th seed.

Law Murray is in his fourth year in Los Angeles via Philadelphia. He has been at grad school at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism since 2012, and graduated from California University of PA in 2009 with a degree in communication studies. Law has also served two years in City Year and covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia. He specializes in breaking down teams and players on a variety of media platforms.