Windsor Express in town Wednesday for 7 p.m. game at Eastlink Centre
Game 3 in the National Basketball League of Canada final is all about momentum. The Island Storm wants to keep it and the Windsor Express want to recapture it.
The series is tied 1-1 after Windsor and the Storm split the first two games in Windsor, Ont., and the pivotal contest starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
It's the first of three home playoffs games for the Storm in the best-of-seven final.
Windsor blew out the Storm by 22 points in Game 1, but the Storm came from behind in Game 2 for a 104-102 victory and evened the series.
So for Al Stewart, Storm captain and point guard, momentum is on his squad's side even if the Express come out firing.
"I think so. I think so. We let (Game 1) get away, but the (Game 2) victory just made us . . . not cocky, just confident," Stewart said after Storm practice Tuesday. "They're a good team. We might come out pumped up, they might come out with the jitters. If we set the tone early, we should be fine."
Nothing is easy, though.
In Game 2, Windsor had an 18-point, first-quarter edge. And while the Storm fought back and eventually took the lead, Windsor didn't fold.
Down two points, Windsor had a chance to tie Game 2 late in the fourth quarter, but Express forward Kevin Loiselle missed a two-pointer with two seconds left in the game. That after Windsor recovered from a 10-point deficit in the final frame.
Proof to Joe Salerno, Storm head coach, starting Game 3 strong is crucial.
"We didn't come out with (enough) intensity in Games 1 and 2. They've shot well along the perimeter. They're probably the best team I've seen in the the league in three seasons," said Salerno. "So many weapons. Good depth and bench scoring. Our bench guys have to step up and hold their own."
But Salerno is pleased Games 3 to 5 are at the cozy Link, where the Storm is 20-5 this season, including playoffs. Besides, he said, with the teams and competition so close every advantage helps.
"The final is played with so much emotion, everyone's worked so hard to get here, a little edge is huge. Our win in Ontario was big for us. It gives us the opportunity to close at home and does a lot for our confidence," he said. "I know they say games 4 and 5 are biggest in a series, but this game is the biggest based on the format. It'll be a good one."
Game 4 and 5 are Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both start at 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
Games 6 and 7, if necessary, are Tuesday, April 15, and Thursday, April 17, in Windsor.
Need to know:
A quick look at some numbers from Game 2 in the Island Storm-Windsor Express NBL final:
Windsor: Stefan Bonneau, 34 points; Storm: Nick Okorie, 31 points.
Windsor: DeAndre Thomas, 9; Storm: Antonio Ballard, 10.
Windsor: Stefan Bonneau, 8; Storm: Adrian Moss, Nick Okorie, 6.
Windsor: 12; Storm: 17.
Windsor: 10; Storm: 9.
Windsor: 18; Storm: 37.