The two regular-season division champions in the National Basketball League of Canada will meet in a head-to-head meeting at Eastlink Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.
It will mark the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Atlantic Division-champion Storm and Lightning, the top team in the Central Division. It has already been determined that London, which is 33-6 (won-lost), will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed while the Storm (24-14) will go in as the second seed.
The Storm has won two of the three meetings against the Lightning this season, winning 116-97 in Summerside and 109-105 in London. The Lightning won a home contest 118-114 in overtime.
Right down to the wire
And if the last two Storm home games are any indication, fans can expect to get their money’s worth. Both the outcomes of the Storm’s 105-100 win over Oshawa on Friday and Sunday’s 118-112 victory over Halifax had fans on the edge of their seats until the final minute of each game.
“They have been close games, closer than I would have liked,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “Oshawa and Halifax are both good teams, and for us to have those games and get wins, I hope it builds up a little stir.
“We are certainly going to need a good crowd come playoff time. Right now it looks like it could be Windsor or Saint John.”
The Storm will open the best-of-five semifinal series at Eastlink Arena on Sunday, March 24. Game 2 will also be in Summerside on Tuesday, March 26.
The Storm expects centre Brandon Hassell to be back in the lineup for the post-season, and he could possibly play in one of the final two regular-season games. Salerno also provided an update on the status of guard Antonio Ballard, who has been a force at both ends of the floor this season.
“He’s (Ballard) out of the hard cast,” said Salerno. “He’s in a walking boot right now, and it was a small hairline fracture in his foot. He has another doctor’s appointment on the 19th, so just before playoff time we should know exactly what’s what with him and make the decision if he will be on our playoff roster or not.
“Obviously, if he’s healthy and ready to go, we will have him there.”
One player, Salerno mentioned, who “has stepped up tremendously” is six-foot-seven and 235-pound forward Louis Birdsong Jr.
Birdsong, who is averaging five points a game, has scored 10, 14, 10 and nine points in four of the Storm’s last five games.
“His play has been exceptional the last three weeks or so,” said Salerno.