2014-15 Hoops – Playoffs Week 2 (March 22)

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Updated: March 25, 2015

Week 2 of the Playoffs brought us some of the best Games of the entire season.. No one is safe as their are upsets happening all over the Bracket.. It truly has been madness..  A few things before we Recap the week that was and look ahead to Week 3 of the Playoffs.  For starters, if you missed last week’s Power Rankings you can click here, to view the All Star selections!  Also, here’s a look at the updated Playoff Bracket.  Finally, here’s a Link to this Week’s Video Highlights!  Now that the links are out of the way.. A bit of housekeeping.. We’ll have Week 3 of the Playoffs this coming Sunday (March 29).  Then, we are OFF on April 5 for the Holidays before resuming the stretch run on Sunday April 12.   This coming Sunday will also host our first TWO ELIMINATION GAMES of the Season.  More on who will be in those shortly.. We’re going to keep the same format as last week.. Go through Game by Game and recap all the action along with some previewing. Let’s get to it!

Playoff Results

No Loss Bracket

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) v. 6. Team Kozin (Theory) – 6. Team Kozin 84-74

This Game started the Night off as one of many Headliners. They both had great regular seasons, winning their respective divisions.  The Playoffs bring forth new challenges and new opportunities though..  Both Teams knew what was in store as the Winners would move on to face 10. Team Hernandez in the No Loss Bracket while the Loser’s would be sent to the 1 Loss Bracket.. Both also knew they had another Game to play on this night.. Neither Team showed any signs of “saving it” for a second game though..

It was an all out battle that saw Team Kozin finish with their arms raised.  The final score doesn’t show just how close this Game was.. This was a couple possession Game down the stretch and it easily could have gone the other way.. Team Kozin was propelled by a great game on the perimeter from All Star Randall Hampton and the usual suspects All Star Josh Davis and Matt Wolk were beasts in the paint. What’s scary is that they were without All Star Tim Flowers and still got it done down low.  For Team Zimmerman, All Star Kyle Nelson, clearly isn’t at 100% right now and it’s going to be story to watch over the next few weeks.. His health may be the most important thing for Team Zimmerman right now.. He still led the Game in scoring with 27 points. Josh Davis led Team Kozin with 24. So when the dust settled, 3. Team Zimmerman would move on to face the Winner of 5. Team Horwitz and 13. Team Holzman while 6. Team Kozin remained in the No Loss Bracket to face 10. Team Hernandez..

6. Team Kozin (Theory) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 6. Team Kozin 73-71

Fresh off their big W, Team Kozin was feeling pretty great coming into their second game, this one with 10. Team Hernandez.  Team Hernandez was trying to prevent Team Kozin from doing something that Team Hernandez did just a week ago — win multiple Playoff Games in the same night.  Not many have accomplished that feat in the Hoops League before.. The Winners of this contest would move on in the No Loss Bracket and compete in the final Game of that Bracket (the Winner of that Game waits for a bunch of Games to take place before a 1 Loss Team comes up and challenges them).  The Loser would be sent down to the 1 Loss Bracket and have to claw its way back up against several tough Teams.  Winning this one could mean the difference of 2 or possibly 3 Games later on..

The Game itself was as good as advertised.. Both Teams surged at different times of the Game and the lead changed over over a handful of times in this one. All Stars Dave Altman and Jeremy Saffold were once again dynamic for their club.. Christian James hit some big shots for Team Hernandez as well.  The drives to rim on both sides were often met with capable shot blockers but some how the ball kept going down. In the closing moments of the Game we were knotted up at 71.  Both Teams had opportunities to hit go ahead shots but couldn’t.. Eventually All Star Randall Hampton found the ball in his hands with just seconds remaining and drew a foul.  He went to line sunk it and locked up the W from the Free Throw line for Team Kozin.. With that shot, they grabbed two HUGE playoffs Ws and stayed undefeated in the Playoffs.. They’ll face the Winner of the 1. Maione v. 4. Lalez Game (just below) in a couple of weeks.. For Team Hernandez, they were heartbreakingly close from their 3rd Playoff W.. They will now have to win a couple of extra Games to hold the crown.. But no one should count them out..

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. 4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 1. Team Maione 85-72

This is the one we had been waiting for.  A Playoff Rematch of last year’s Championship combatants.  A brief history lesson.. In the past 2 seasons these two storied Teams have met 6 times coming into this gigantic Game.  In the 2013-14 Regular Season, they split 1-1.. In Last year’s Playoffs, Defending Champs Team Lalez won in Week 3 of the Playoffs against Team Maione, but Team Maione battled back to get to the Championship nonetheless..  On Championship Night, Team Lalez entered with 1 Loss and Team Maione had 2.. That meant, Team Maione needed to defeat Team Lalez in back to back Games to win the Crown.. Team Maione took care of business in that first Championship Game, tied the season series at 2-2 and forced a Winner take all Championship Game 2.. Team Lalez, of course, won that Game and with it the Crown.  Team Maione had been brewing on that for months on end and finally got a sliver of retribution a couple months ago when they defeated Team Lalez during the Regular Season.. So here we are, the 7th Chapter in a story that is likely not even close to conclusion.. However, not all chapters are created equal, and this one holds a lot of weight.. The Winner stays on the fast track toward getting back to the Championship Game, while the Losers would be forced to win at least a couple extra Games on their journey..

Last year’s League MVP Chris Wroblewski (an All Star once again this season) took it upon himself on Sunday Night to make sure his Team would not fall to Team Lalez.  He hit big shot after big shot after big shot.  Fall aways, step backs, leaners, hands in his face.. It didn’t matter. He ended up with 36 points on the night.  He of course had help from his great teammates but he put on a show on Sunday Night. At times, this one was closer than the final score would indicate, but Team Maione really controlled it throughout.. Both Teams were missing important pieces and there’s no way to tell how the Game would have gone had both been playing at full-strength, but what we do know is Team Maione is now one step closer to the ultimate prize..  They will get a couple weeks off (Week 3 and the Holiday) before a big No Loss clash with Team Kozin.. Team Lalez will now head to the 1 Loss Bracket.. Something they didn’t have to experience on their Championship Journey.. Repeating is tough.. That’s why no Chicago Men’s Team has ever done so in any League..  If anyone can though.. It’s them.

1 Loss Bracket

5. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes) v. 13. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 13. Team Holzman 63-57

Want to showcase a brief excerpt from the Playoff Preview a couple weeks back..

“Before everyone starts to right them off as a “1 Loss” Team who can’t make a difference in this thing.. Let’s play a little history game.. It was exactly a year ago when Team Holzman found themselves in an eerily familiar position.. They were seeded as the highest “1 Loss” Team entering the Playoffs. Exact same spot as this year.. Then they went on to win FOUR Playoff Games, including two Elimination Games.  They sent 20% of the League home last year.. Know who else can say that?  Team Maione and Team Kozin. That’s it.  Just a warning to everyone.. They’ve done it once and they’ve gotten better since then..  Crazier things have happened.”  

Someone, and not to point fingers, was right. (Editor’s Note: Me).  Team Holzman had Playoff success a year ago and there’s a lot to be said about that.  They know how to win Games in desperation mode and they showed that ability on Sunday Night.  This could have gone either way and we’ll get to Team Horwitz in a second but Team Holzman’s core simply gets the job done when Spring rolls around.. David Holmes was a big reason why, scoring 30, on just 18 shots to get Team Holzman over the hump. Also, worth noting that the other Two teams mentioned in the excerpt above — Team Maione and Team Kozin — are this season’s last two unbeatens in the Playoffs.. Getting Ws in the Playoffs is just a different ball game and either you have it or well, you go home.

For 5. Team Horwitz, of course this is not how they envisioned their Playoff journey going and it’s certainly disappointing.  Team Holzman did a good job of keeping newly crowned MVP – Alan Tucci – from really going off in his first Game back in a couple of weeks.. Team Horwitz just never looked comfortable and could never really string many buckets together.. They looked a lot different from the group that was scoring in the 90s+ earlier in the season.. Things slow down in the Playoffs, however, and it takes time to adjust.  They will move on to an ELIMINATION GAME NEXT WEEK and they’ll take on 16. Team Elrod in that one. Again, they will be the favorites.. They need to not worry about that and just get back to playing their exciting brand of basketball. For Team Holzman, the celebration could not last too long

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) v. 13. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro) – 3. Team Zimmerman 78-70

Interesting dynamic to this one as 13. Team Holzman was coming off the biggest W of their season just minutes before and 3. Team Zimmerman was coming off a Loss in their most important Game to date.. Emotions of course play a big role (sometimes, too big) in all of this.. Team Zimmerman was able to whether the storm though and shake-off the previous Game fairly quickly.  They got a decent lead in the first half and despite various runs by Team Holzman, it was Team Zimmerman icing the Game with free throws down the stretch.  Team Holzman, who had just 6 guys on the night, looked just absolutely gassed by night’s end and you have to wonder could they have taken out two Top 5 Teams in one night had they just had anther body or two? We’ll never know.. They’ll be off next week and when they get back they’ll be firmly planted in ELIMINATION GAME territory.. They send Teams home.. Wouldn’t want to see them across from me on the bracket, that’s for sure.. Team Zimmerman has a short recovery time here as they need to get healthy fast.. They’ll play the Winner of 2. Team Harris and 9. Team Schwartz next week and then if they win in that Game would move on to face 4. Team Lalez.. Very much a make or break week coming for Team Zimmerman.

9. Team Schwartz (Greater Than) v. 16. Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – 9. Team Schwartz 78-64

Stakes of this one are simple — Winner stays in the 1 Loss Bracket and faces 2. Team Harris.. Loser would move on to the first set of ELIMINATION GAMES next week.  Both Teams had some guys under the weather so benches were short and legs really started to go later on in the Game. The lead changed hands a few times in the first half but as time ticked away Team Schwartz went on a crazy run — it was in the 20s to 2 range over a several minute stretch that put it away from the Greater Than bunch. Jason Vismantas had a huge 29 in this one.  With a Loss on them Team Schwartz who really have come into their own post-Super Bowl are still a very dangerous bunch in the 1 Loss Bracket.  2. Team Harris is in for a fight next week.. The Winner of that Game will face 3. Team Zimmerman and another Win puts them against 4. Team Lalez.. They’ll need Greater Than for sure next week!  As for Team Elrod, they aren’t done just yet.. Worth noting Phil Weisberg had 27 in the Loss. They will take part in one of TWO ELIMINATION GAMES next week and with reseeding they’ll face 5. Team Horwitz who has been on a bit of a slide as of late.. Could be a Franchise turning moment..

7. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) v. 15. Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 7. Team Goldin 105-69

Both Teams came into this one with a Loss of course and both have capabilities of going on a run.. Team Goldin, again, finished 3rd last year and it was no accident. They have the talent to really go far in this thing and it may take one “coming out party” to help get the ball rolling again.. That’s what they got in this one as they just couldn’t miss.  They went for 105 and it seemed at times if they could have scored even more.. Team Shaffer really had nothing to do with this.. They were just firing.. Specifically All Star Garrett Staniec, who was just, well very impressive.. He ended the Game with THIRTY SEVEN POINTS AND TWENTY REBOUNDS! The question would become, could they keep it going for another hour against 8. Team Bernkopf? See Below.  Team Shaffer isn’t done just yet though.. They will move on to the first set of ELIMINATION GAMES next week and go toe to toe with 11. Team Apuli for the right to see another day!

7. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) v. 8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 7. Team Goldin 80-74 OT

Saving the best for last here.. There many heralded games coming into Sunday Night and for good reason.. This was a potential matchup that flew a bit under the radar but it sure delivered once the ball was tipped. The lead changed hands at least a dozen times in this one and with each run it seemed one Team would finally lock down the biggest Win of their respective seasons.. But neither Team would give up.. As the clock neared zero Team Bernkopf found itself up and with chances to ice the Game at the Free Throw line.. They left the door open and with 4 seconds remaining Dominic Lopez took Team Goldin right through that opening when he hit a huge game-tying OT causing, deep 3 ball. At the start of OT, Dom hit another big 3 and Team Goldin would not relinquish the lead from there!  He hit two of the biggest shots of the year and with them 7. Team Goldin remained in the 1 Loss Bracket.  They’ll face the Winner of 12. Team Shamberg v. 14. Team Levitan and the Winner of that Game will play 10. Team Hernandez — all next week!  For Team Bernkopf, obviously a gut-wrenching way to head to ELIMINATION GAME territory, but they aren’t out of it yet.. They have a high seed and will reseed favorably for the next few rounds.. They are actually off next week and then for the holiday so they have a chance to regroup here before their season gets put on the line.

 

Teams that were off this Week:

2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.)

The North Division Champs and #2 overall seed had an extra week to recoup after their surprising L in their first Playoff Game vs. 10. Team Hernandez.  They needed that time to game plan without leading point man and All Star Dylan Richter.  They have a potential Triple Header on Sunday Night.. Here’s the path — first they’ll play 9. Team Schwartz a win there puts them against 3. Team Zimmerman and a second Win would put them against 4. Team Lalez.. Quite the road in-store for 2. Team Harris. A loss in any of those Games will send them to ELIMINATION GAME territory.. Lots can happen before that though..

11. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts)

We had to wait a week to see who they’d take on in one of the first ELIMINATION GAMES of the season and with the the upset of 5. Team Horwitz, they’ll be reseeded and take on the 2nd lowest seed available.. 15. Team Shaffer.. It’s a Team they matchup favorably against and for their sake hopefully a Team they can beat to keep their season going!

12. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) & 14. Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Maroon)

These two Teams had a Week to get ready for each other and next Sunday Night we’ll see who made the proper adjustments.. The Winner will move on to face 7. Team Goldin and then potentially 10. Team Hernandez if they keep Winning.  The Loser will head to ELIMINATION GAME territory.  It’s a true cross roads for these two Teams.. Either is capable of getting on a roll here and both already have won in the Playoffs this year.. Only one can spring ahead though this coming Sunday.

 

That’s it for this Week. The Games keep getting better and better each week.. Good Luck to everyone in Week 3!

– Holden