Do or Die: A Look at the Game Sevens from the First Round

  • By Andrew Seitz, Day 190, 2025

Drones 108, Jailbirds 102

The Drones led this one from the opening basket until 2:27 was remaining in the fourth quarter, when Van Bree scored a layup off of a Cheaney miss to take a 96-95 lead. After some back and forth action, RW2 put the Drones up for good 100-98 with a three pointer.

The Drones shot much better than the Jailbirds all night, 56 to 46 eFG%, but the Jailbirds’ offensive rebounding (17-9) kept them in it. Game 7 should have been the Cheaney Show, but he finished 8 of 20 with 5 turnovers for a game score of 9 and the worst +/- of the game at -14.

Instead, the star of the game was Carroll with 20-9-6 starting at the 3 with Rush at the 4. Incidentally, Rush’s numbers are down dramatically so far in the playoffs from the year before when he almost carried the Drones himself. In 2024, he averaged 23-11-6 in 36 minutes, and this year so far he is averaging 18-7-4 in 38 minutes.

This was a reloading year for the Jailbirds, who did not have the intent to compete for a championship, so the loss does not hurt their process.

Fireballs 101, Knights 98

Cheaney disappointed on the big stage, but LaCruz was determined to show up his positional rival, going for 33-5-10 and a 33 game score, even though Hawes did all he could to take the series for the Knights (46-11-1). The Fireballs were up most of the game until a back and forth fourth quarter. The Fireballs had a 96-95 lead and the ball with 1:09 remaining in the game when Kuberka stole a bad pass by Curry and was fouled en route to the basket by LaCruz. Kuberka, in maybe his final game of his long career, made just one of the two free throws to tie the game at 96. With 50 seconds left, Curry found LaCruz open in the paint for a short jumper, giving the Fireballs the lead again at 98-96.

The Knights methodically worked their offense, but the Fireballs’ defense held until 1 second was left on the shot clock and Ajayi’s desperation drive ended in having the ball stolen by Spencer. With 27 seconds left, the Knights had to foul, and Spencer hit both to put the Fireballs up 100-96. Kuberka (who in the playoffs averaged 18-4-9 on 46% eFG) missed a mid range jumper, and rebound was pulled in by Dozier who sealed the victory with another foul shot.

What will comey do? He has been threatening to blow it up for what seems like three seasons now, and this version of Knights failing to get home court or to the second round has to be frustrating. Grant is a free agent this year, and they don’t have a first round pick until 2029, so there are limited options to get better in the short term, other than gathering cohesion.

Warriors 123, Huskies 112

This is the series that probably surprised neutrals the most, and has a lot of GMs wondering if the entire East should pack it in and rebuild for the next 10 seasons until Weaver gets close to retirement. Weaver and his sack of misfit toys took down the defending champion Huskies and did it in convincing fashion, using a 41-20 second quarter to take an 18 point halftime lead. In the second half the Huskies showed a lot of spirit, cutting the deficit to 5 points several times, but they could never get over the hump.

Weaver’s 30-10-12 triple double paced the Warriors, and it is not often that a team scores 123 points when its starting point guard doesn’t earn a single assist. Thomas though was the second leading scorer for the Warriors with 21 points.

What’s next for the Huskies? Towards the end of the season they were looking like the odds-on favorite to be the #1 seed but were derailed by injuries, including to starting PG Terry, who missed most of the playoff series. At 28 years of age next year, Terry is the eldest of the Toronto Big 4. Barry was maybe the biggest goat of the series, going from 29-7-3 55% eFG last year to 17-5-3 46% eFG. It’s hard though to expect him to carry the team going up against Weaver. Was this the result of a championship hangover, or are big changes needed? Matt needs to answer that question this offseason.