Saturday night could be a sweet one for the Mob. With a victory over one-win Rumble and another in the Main Event, the Mob would complete a perfect 16-0 regular season. Brendan Kirsch’s crew has already secured the No. 1 seed, but playoff ramifications abound for the other three teams on Saturday’s card. The Rumble and Gryphons are fighting just to make the playoffs, while the Wrath still gave a path to the No. 2 seed in the postseason. The action on Saturday at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas begins at 7:30 p.m. PT /10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+).
AROUND THE LEAGUE
HOME STRETCH: With two sessions remaining before the playoffs, three big questions remain. Can the Mob complete a perfect 16-0 regular season? Who will join the Mob with a bye into the semifinals? And who will claim the two remaining playoff berths. Let’s look at each …
The Mob opened the sixth season of SlamBall with a decisive 71-36 victory over the Rumble, their longtime rival. That was a sign of things to come. Since then, the Mob have reeled off 14 straight wins, all by 13 or more points. Now all that stands between the Mob and a perfect regular season are the 1-7 Rumble and a Main Event, where they would potentially meet the Wrath (5-5) or Gryphons (3-7). The Mob are 6-0 against the other three teams playing tonight, winning those games by an average of 31.3 points!
The Buzzsaw had a chance to secure the No. 2 seed and the remaining playoff by beating the Rumble in Friday’s Main Event but were trounced 57-32. The Buzzsaw (8-5) hold a ½-game lead over the Slashers (7-5) and a 1½-game edge on the Wrath (5-5) for the 2-seed. The Buzzsaw and Slashers could meet again tomorrow in the Main Event. The Wrath have a chance to put the pressure on both of those teams by going 2-0 tonight. If the Wrath beat the Gryphons and win the Main Event, they could earn the bye if the Buzzsaw lose the opening game tomorrow to the Ozone AND the Slashers lose one more game.
Four teams – Gryphons (3-7), Lava (2-6), Ozone (2-7) and Rumble (1-7) – are battling for the two remaining playoff berths. The Gryphons can snag one of them by winning both games tonight. Even with a loss tonight, the Gryphons have a chance to make the playoffs. The Rumble cannot clinch a playoff berth tonight but can stay alive by winning two games. A loss at any point tonight ends their season.
PLAYOFF SEEDING TIEBREAKERS
- Win percentage
- Main Events won
- Head-to-head win percentage
- Point differential
SlamBall Playoff Schedule:
Tuesday, August 15 – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
Quarterfinals: No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed
Quarterfinals: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed
Slam Dunk Contest (8 participants)
Thursday, August 17 – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN)
Semifinals: No. 1 seed (Mob) vs. winner of No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed quarterfinal
Semifinals: No. 2 seed vs winner of No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed quarterfinal
SlamBall Championship Game
BY THE BOOK: Beware of the dogs. In the last six games that Circa Sports posted odds, underdogs are 3-3 straight up and 4-2 against the spread. In the 12 games that Circa has made lines, dogs are 3-9 SU and 5-7 ATS. In the opener tonight, Circa Sports made the Wrath 4.5-point favorites over the Gryphons. In the evening’s second tilt, the Mob laying a whopping 22.5 points against the Rumble, which is the largest spread Circa has produced for a SlamBall game this season.
POINT BREAK: Scoring has been up during the second half of the SlamBall season. During the first two weeks, games averaged 96.3 combined points. During Week 3 and the first two sessions of Week 4, games are generating 101.2 total points. Just two of the first eight sessions averaged 100 or more points per game. Three of the last six sessions have topped 100 total PPG, including this Thursday (105.0) and Friday (114.3).
EXILE ON MAIN STREET: The comeback season of SlamBall has delivered just about everything … except competitive Main Events. The average margin of victory in the first 14 Main Events was 23.7 points. The average score has been 57-33. Just one Main Event has been decided by single digits – the Buzzsaw’s 40-31 victory over the Slashers on July 29. Each of the last four Main Events was won by 25 or more points. There has been no clear advantage to entering the Main Event after winning the first or second game of a session. Seven victors won the first contest and seven were triumphant in the second. First-game winners won their Main Events by a wider margin than the second – 26.6 PPG to 20.8.
IN YOUR FACE: Face Offs are a SlamBall trademark and one of the most exciting plays in sports. Three players in action tonight have turned Face Offs into an art form. The Gryphons’ Justin “Juggernaut” Holmes is an astounding 14-for-14 on offensive Face Offs. Not surprisingly, the Mob have a pair of offensive Face Off specialists in Gage Smith, who is 7-for-7, and Darius Clark, who is 9-of-10. As a team, the Mob have the best offensive FO percentage (82.1, 32-29), while the Gryphons rank second (80.0, 32-39). Leaguewide this season, offensive players have had the upper hand on Face Offs, converting 60.9% (142-233).
HIGHEST OFFENSIVE FACE-OFF PERCENTAGE, This Season
Justin Holmes, Gryphons – 100.0 (14-14)
Gage Smith, Mob – 100.0 (7-7)
Darius Clark, Mob – 90.0 (9-10)
Min. 5 attempts
GAME 1: WRATH (5-5) vs GRYPHONS (3-7)
WHAT’S AT STAKE: This is a crucial matchup for both teams. The Wrath, who have secured a playoff berth, need to win out tonight to have a chance to claim the No. 2 seed. The Gryphons will make the playoffs by winning two more games. These two squads played a pair of competitive contests earlier this season, both won by the Mob by 10 points or fewer: 42-37 on July 21 and 70-60 in the August 4 Main Event. In the most recent meeting, the Gryphons’ KyShawn Jones and Wrath’s Ty McGee went slam-for-slam, with Jones scoring 37 points and McGee dropping in 31.
GOING OFF: Both Ty McGee and KyShawn Jones are in the conversation for Offensive Player of the Year honors. McGee is the clear frontrunner. He is the only player in the league averaging more than 20 points per game, chipping in 26.8. He set a SlamBall record with 45 points against the Rumble on July 22, and owns a league-most four games with 30 or more points. McGee is also tied for fourth in the league in assists per game (2.6). Jones ranks fourth in the league with an average of 18.6 PPG. He is the only player in the league with two games of 35 or more points, including the 37-point outburst against the Wrath last week. Jones isn’t afraid to mix it up, tying for second in SlamBall with 22 hits.
STOP GAP: Both teams are playing with reserve stoppers. The Wrath’s Christian Gray (knee) will miss his sixth straight session while Shawn Stith (ankle) will be out for the fourth in a row. Trey Landers (3.5 stops per game) has been thrust into the stopper role for the Wrath. The Gryphons’ Connor Hollenbeck (ankle) will be sidelined for a fourth consecutive session. Massive Matthew Wilkerson (5.7 stops per game) has taken Hollenbeck’s spot. The Gryphons rank fifth in the league in stops per contest (7.1) while the Wrath rank seventh (6.7).
GAME 2: MOB (14-0) vs RUMBLE (1-7)
POLAR OPPOSITES: The Mob and Rumble have a rich, shared history. They were SlamBall’s original two teams. The Rumble won the first SlamBall championship in 2002, while the Mob have been triumphant in the last two (2012 and 2016 in China). The sixth season could not have gone any differently for these two longtime rivals. The Mob look invincible, going 14-0 with an absurd 26.7 PPG margin of victory. The Rumble look lost, winning just once all season – by one point – while losing the other seven games by an average of 18.9 PPG. The Mob dominated the Rumble in two previous meetings this season: 71-36 in the July 21 season opener and 63-27 in a July 30 Main Event. The Mob are generating a league-most 58.7 PPG while the Rumble have surrendered a league-high 65.8 PPG.
PITCH PERFECT: Being perfect is no small feat in the world of sports. The Mob’s chance to go 16-0 in the regular season has a very football feel to it. After all, the last NFL team to complete a perfect regular season was the 2007 New England Patriots, who went 16-0 but lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. The only NFL team to go through an entire season, including playoffs, without a loss or tie was the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0. Perfect seasons are more commonplace in college football. Last season, the Georgia Bulldogs won all 15 of their games to win their second straight national title. Of course, no NBA team has ever completed a season without a loss. In college basketball, Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers were the last men’s team to do it, going 32-0 in 1976. On the women’s side, under Geno Auriemma, the UConn Huskies have finished with a perfect record on five occasions, with the last coming in 2016. And consider … over 154 seasons of Major League Baseball, there have been just 24 perfect games. The New York Yankees’ Domingo German ended an 11-year drought with a perfecto on June 28 of this year.
ONE IS THE LONLIEST NUMBER: In addition to dominating the standings, the Mob, to no surprise, lead the league in many statistical categories. They rank No. 1 in PPG (58.7), PPG allowed (32.0), PPG differential (+26.7), field goal percentage (56.9), slams per game (15.5) and assists per game (8.9). One category where the Rumble actually have an advantage, albeit a slight one, is turnovers per game. The Rumble have given the ball away a league-low 10.1 times while the Mob have coughed it up 10.6 times per outing, the second-fewest.
GAGE’S STAGE: The Mob have announced that stopper Dionte Byrd will get his first start of the season tonight against the Rumble, which means Gage Smith could get an expanded role on offense. Smith, the clear frontrunner for league MVP honors, has dominated no matter where he is on the floor. Defensively, he is second in the league in stops per game (9.3), first in LBRs per game (9.3) and first in steals (22). But he has been equally effective when he invades the opponents’ territory. He is averaging 8.1 PPG, while ranking second in the league in field goal percentage (64.9) and third in rim-attack percentage (67.2). He’s also 7-for-7 on offensive Face Offs. He has scored in double figures in six of his last eight outings, including last Thursday vs. Buzzsaw when he recorded the first triple-double in SlamBall history (10 points, 11 stops, 16 LBRs).
DAC ATTACK: The Mob’s Darius Clark has a final chance today to bolster his already-impressive Offensive Player of the Year resume. Clark ranks second in the league in PPG (19.2), first in dunks (61), fifth in rim-attack percentage (65.0, 69-106), third in offensive Face Off percentage (90.0, 9-10) and tied for sixth in hits (17). He has led the Mob in scoring in eight of his 11 appearances, including each of the last five.
FORCE FIELDS: Because of his team’s dismal record, Rumble stopper Tamyrik Fields has been flying under the radar even though he has been soaring on the court. Fields is second on the team in scoring (8.8), first in FG% (50.0), first in stops (5.8 per game) and second in LBRs (5.6 per game). He has scored at least 15 points in three of the Rumble’s eight games, including a season-high 18 against the Buzzsaw on Friday night.
GAME 3: Main Event (Game 1 Winner vs Game 2 Winner)