Already this weekend, SlamBall fans have been treated to historic moments with the first triple-double in the sport’s history and the inaugural overtime game of the season. The excitement doesn’t stop there, as more exhilarating action awaits at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas during the week’s final games on Sunday at 4 p.m. PT / 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN+). Kicking off the slate, the budding rivalry between the Ozone and Wrath will be reignited. In the mid-session showdown, the Lava aims to secure their first win of the season against the equally desperate Rumble.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
BY THE BOOK: Circa Sports is expecting a pair of blowouts in the first two games today. Circa made the Wrath 9.5-point favorites over the Ozone, and, amazingly, has the winless Lava giving 11.5 points to the Rumble. In the six previous games that Circa listed odds, favorites went 6-0 straight up and 5-1 against the spread. The Rumble were the only underdog to cover, losing by three points in overtime while getting 6.5 points on Friday.
TRIPLE THREAT: Mob stopper Gage Smith was already considered the frontrunner for league MVP honors before stepping on the court Saturday. By the time he headed for the locker room, he had erased any doubts. In the Main Event win over the Buzzsaw, Smith manufactured the first triple-double in SlamBall history, collecting 10 points, 11 stops and 16 loose ball recoveries. Smith hit double digits in points in dramatic fashion by executing a fourth-quarter “McNasty” (360-degree, between-the-legs throwdown) on a Face Off. It was a maneuver that Mob coach Brendan Kirsch said he had never practiced before. Smith also finished the session with a “triple-20” – 22 points, 21 stops and 23 LBRs in the two wins. “I think when the season is done, Gage will be considered one of the greatest SlamBall players of all time,” said Kirsch, who has been the Mob’s coach since 2002.
MOB RULE: It’s Mob’s world and the rest of SlamBall is just living in it. With two victories on Saturday, the Mob (12-0) secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. (Playoff seeding is based on win percentage.) This season the Mob have won every game by at least 13 points, nine by 20 and six by 30-plus. The Mob have outscored teams by a combined 329 points (27.4 per game). They are the only team in the league that has scored more points than they have allowed.
GAME 1: WRATH (5-3) vs OZONE (1-5)
PUBLIC ENEMIES: Put simply, the Ozone and Wrath don’t like each other. Their previous meeting in the July 22 Main Event turned ugly when Wrath star Ty McGee suffered a concussion in the first half, setting off an altercation that resulted in coaches James Willis (Wrath) and Trevor Anderson (Ozone) getting ejected, suspended for one session and fined. The teams also scuffled in a joint practice preceding the game. The Wrath rolled to a 64-37 victory on July 22 with Darion Slade tallying a game-high 16 points.
McGEE WHIZ: Ty McGee of the Wrath and Keith McGee of the Ozone (no relation) own four of the five highest-scoring games in SlamBall this season. Ty McGee returned from concussion protocol on Friday to propel the Wrath to much-needed wins over the Lava and Gryphons, amassing 65 points, 11 assists, nine loose ball recoveries and seven hits in the process. He became the first player to have two games with 30 or more points in a single session (34 vs. Lava and 31 vs. Gryphons). He has three of the five highest-scoring games in SlamBall this season, including the all-time record of 43 points against the Rumble on July 22 in the game before he suffered the head injury. Ty McGee’s average of 27.3 PPG this season is far and away the highest in the league (Lava’s Bryce Moragne is second at 20.0).
Keith McGee has been one of the few bright spots for the Ozone this season. He has been his team’s top scorer in five of their six games and ranks fifth in the league with 18.3 PPG. His 38 points against the Rumble on July 29 were the second-most in a game this season, behind the record-setting 43-point explosion by Ty McGee.
WRATH INJURIES: While Ty McGee was able to return after a two-game absence, three other Wrath players will be unavailable today. Christian Gray (knee) will miss his fifth consecutive session, Steven Julian (ankle) will be sidelined for his fourth straight gameday and Shawn Stith (ankle) will be inactive for the second straight session.
BYE THE WAY: The 12-0 Mob have already secured a bye and the top seed in the postseason. Despite playing with a depleted roster much of the season, the Wrath are in prime position to nail down the one remaining playoff bye. Should the Wrath win both games today, they would vault ahead of the Buzzsaw (7-4, .636) into second place in the standings with a 7-3 (.700) record.
TOXIC AIR: The Ozone, losers of four straight games, desperately need a win today. The Ozone defeated the Lava by four points on July 22 and lost to the Rumble by a point on July 30, but they have lost the other four contests by at least 11 points. The Ozone’s -12.3 PPG differential this season is next-to-last in the league (Rumble, -15.5). There have been several problem areas for the Ozone. They have surrendered the most penalty points per game (6.3), are tied with the Slashers for the fewest LBRs per game (20.0), have made the fewest stops per game (6.2) and delivered the fewest hits per game (2.5).
GAME 2: RUMBLE (1-5) vs LAVA (0-5)
DESPERATE MEASURES: Neither the Lava nor the Rumble can afford a loss in their first matchup of the season. Nothing has gone according to plan for the Lava, who will be without first overall pick Bryce Moragne (ankle) for the third session this season, and have lost each of their five games by five points or fewer. Their -18 scoring differential is fourth-best in the league despite owning the league’s worst record. Other than their two blowout losses to the Mob, the Rumble have been competitive. They beat the Ozone by one for their lone victory of the season, lost in overtime to the Gryphons on Friday, and dropped their other two games by 10 and eight points.
ROYAL RUMBLE: Tamyrik Fields has emerged as a force on both ends of the floor for the Rumble. Fields’ last-second slam against the Ozone on July 30 lifted the Rumble to their only win of the year. He has made 6.7 stops per game, the fifth-most in the league, while scoring 15 points in a game twice and eight points once. Fields’ 66.6 rim-attack percentage is the fourth-highest in the league. Fields’ stellar play has been vital with stopper Bakari Coleman (ankle) sidelined for a third straight session. Kaylon Tippins-Hill remains the Rumble’s most reliable scoring threat. He ranks third in the league with an output of 19.3 PPG.
BOMBS AWAY: While the four-point line has been largely ignored by most of the league, the Rumble and Lava are the exceptions. The Rumble have attempted a league-most 10.0 four-pointers per game while the Lava have fired up 4.8, the second-most. The Rumble (11) and Lava (five) have combined for 16 of the 28 made 4s in the league this season. Overall, teams are connecting on just 14% of their four-point tries (28-200). The Lava have the highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc (20.8, 5-24) while the Rumble have the third-highest percentage (18.3, 11-60); the Wrath are second (18.8, 3-16). The Rumble’s Richard Washington and JaeTuan Williams shared the league lead with four made four-pointers. Washington, who played major college basketball at Wake Forest and San Jose State, has launched a league-most 23 shots from long range.
SHOCK WAVE: The Lava have been efficient around the hoop this season, leading the league in rim-attack percentage (64.9). Lava gunner Jihan Shockley tops all players with a 73.9 rim-attack percentage (17-23) while the injured Bryce Moragne ranks second (72.0, 18-25).
FESS UP: Former Chattanooga tight end Faysal “Fessy” Shafaat looks right at home in the stopper role for the Lava. He leads SlamBall in stops per game (9.4) and is eighth in LBRs per contest (5.4).
GAME 3: Main Event (Game 1 Winner vs Game 2 Winner)