Lightning Watch: Checking out NBLC conference finals

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: NBLCANADA.COM
Tim Parham has led the Halifax Rainmen to a surprise Conference Finals appearance.

The first round of the National Basketball League of Canada playoffs has been an exciting one for the neutral fan. After a single week, three of the four quarterfinals were settled, leaving the Halifax Rainmen, Island Storm and the Windsor Express in the conference finals. The London Lightning were still fighting the Brampton A's to see who will face Windsor in the Central, while the first seed Storm were preparing to take on the fourth seed Halifax in the next round.

On paper, the top-rated Island Storm look set to advance to their second straight NBLC Finals appearance. However, the 11-29 Halifax Rainmen dismantled the Saint John Mill Rats in the first round, eventually taking the series 3-1. Halifax, since starting the season 0-10, has started to become a decent team. Since February 8, they have put together a record of 8-5, including the series with Saint John. They have relied on a strong rebounding game, thanks to players like Tim Parham, however, they did poorly with the ball, only averaging 98 points a game. In the past 10 games they only scored under that average once. They have been shooting well above their weight, just at the right time.

When it comes to the Island Storm, they bring some hot scorers, outscoring the Moncton Miracles by margins of 16, 19 and 22 in their three quarter-final wins. In fact, they have the second-best offence in the league. They will match up well with Halifax, who has let teams run them around too often this year (including the Storm, who beat them 7-3 over the course of the regular season). The Storm has some pretty big holes (last in the league in field goal defence this season at .462), so it will be interesting to see if Halifax, with their hot offence, can push them a bit.

In the only first round sweep, the Windsor Express destroyed the fifth seed Mississauga Power through three games (Mississauga beat the Ottawa Skyhawks in the play-in game between the fourth and fifth seeds in the Central). Scoring 105, 110 and 129 points in those three games, Windsor is clicking. They were the top team in the league and are guaranteed home court advantage for the rest of the playoffs. The good thing about that is they are now awaiting the winner of the London Brampton series — meaning they will play the first two games at home while being well rested. The Express are an easy favourite to move on to the NBLC Finals from the Central.

Marty Thompson is the play-by-play voice of the London Lightning for their livestream,