Behind big performances from Jonathan Simmons and Erik Murphy, the Austin Spurs did just enough to clinch the first round series win over the Bakersfield Jam 90-88.
With the win, the Spurs advance to the Western Conference Finals against a formidable Santa Cruz Warriors team that swept the Oklahoma City Blue for the second round berth.
The Spurs once again got out to a quick start, putting up 30 first quarter points to give them an early seven point lead. But the Jam would keep it close the remainder of the game and made a rally in the fourth to try to extend their series.
After a Renaldo Major runner with seconds remaining brought the Jam within two, Xavier Munford was unable to knockdown a free throw after a technical foul by Simmons. With 8.2 seconds remaining, the Spurs turned over the ball, but Major and Munford both missed shots.
Orlando Johnson rebounded Munford’s last second desperation three for the win.
Simmons led all scorers with a much-needed 28 points. While he’s usually part of the second unit, coach Ken McDonald started him with Kyle Anderson being recalled by the San Antonio Spurs.
Erik Murphy had a breakout game, with 26 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Johnson also scored in double figured with 15 points and six assists.
The Jam were led by Center Mac Koshwal’s 24 points and 10 rebounds. Major followed with 17 points and Munford finished with 13.
The Western Conference Finals series will tip off on Friday night at the Cedar Park Center.
The full schedule is as follows:
Game 1 Friday, April 17 Spurs vs. Warriors 7 PM ESPN3
Game 2 Sunday, April 19 Spurs at Warriors 7:30 PM ESPNU
Game 3* Monday, April 20 Spurs at Warriors 9 PM ESPNU
– All Times Central
The Warriors are a high-scoring group that easily outscored the Blue over two games. During the season, they tied for the best record in the league. Their roster boasts several familiar faces, including Blake Ahearn, Darrington Hobson, Aaron Craft and James Michael McAdoo, Mychel Thompson and Taylor Griffin among others.
While the first round was a tough matchup for the Spurs, this series will test the Spurs’ defense, especially after the regular season losses of Bryce Cotton, JaMychal Green and Joshua Davis.
Regardless, it’ll be one of the most interesting matchups of the playoffs, so be sure to tune in on ESPN3.