Can Storm continue hot play?

Bob
Bob Gray
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Team plays first game Thursday after long break

As those of us of a certain vintage learned long ago, while listening late at night to the electric radio, "When you're hot, you're hot."

And the Summerside Storm is definitely hot, winners of four straight as they prepare to play the Saint John Mill Rats tonight (Thursday) in beautiful Saint John, N.B.

But then, maybe they're not hot. Maybe they're cold. You see, they haven't played in 10 days due to some strange scheduling in the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada.

Most times, when you're on a winning streak, the last thing you want to see is an off-day, much less an off-week-and-a-half.

So maybe the red-hot Storm will show up against the Rats and blow them out of the gym. And maybe the rusty ice-cold Storm will show up and have trouble doing anything right.

We'll just have to wait and see. It's like everything else in life – it's a 50-50 proposition.

And what's been going on around the old NBL of Canada while the Storm has been resting up?

Essentially, a lot of treading water.

In the Atlantic Division, which the Storm leads with a 13-9 (won-lost) record, a bit of a margin has emerged, with emphasis on the 'bit.'

Summerside leads by 2 1/2 games over Halifax, which beat the Mill Rats last week but is currently away on a two-game set in Ontario, playing the tough Oshawa and Windsor clubs, and then hosting Moncton on Sunday. Now, that's the definition of a tough five days.

Saint John came undone this week after a torrid few weeks, losing to Halifax and Moncton to fall back in its tight race with the Storm.

Moncton had the thrill of playing Oshawa (12-10) and London (22-2) on back-to-back nights. Chalk up two losses there, before beating Saint John on Sunday.

In the Central Division, the London Lightning is cruising along at a cool 20 games above .500, with a 'magic number' to clinch a playoff berth of just nine. The Storm's is 16. Don't even start. . .

Montreal has finally won its first two games of the season, and lost in overtime in a third game. So they'll be a lot tougher on Friday night, when the Storm hosts them, than they were a few weeks ago when they showed up here with just eight players and played some exceedingly strange basketball.

The big prize for the remaining 18 games of the Storm's schedule is to finish first in the Atlantic Division. The two division winners and the team with the next-best winning percentage receive a bye to start the playoffs, while the teams with the fourth- and fifth-best records play a best-of-three "play-in" series to see who gets the remaining spot in the semifinal series.

The Storm – and everyone else – wants to be among those first three teams.  With London seemingly guaranteed a spot, the surest way is to win the Atlantic Division.

That quest starts tonight in Saint John as the Storm checks in again for the first time in 10 days, hoping for all the world that they're still very, very hot.

Bob Gray is a freelance journalist with a long history of P.E.I. basketball reporting. He welcomes comments at bgray@pei.sympatico.ca, and can be followed on Twitter @bgray5.

Organizations: National Basketball League, London Lightning

Geographic location: Saint John, Halifax, Oshawa Moncton London Canada Ontario Montreal

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