London Lions vs Cheshire Phoenix: The Ultimate Playoff Preview
“Winning a postseason game is like winning five regular-season games. There is just no feeling like it. Everything is magnified. Every free throw, turnover, shot and play.”
- Don Meyer
After their technical foul marred first-round game, the London Lions are one step closer to the 2023 British Basketball Championship Playoff finals. The 2023 BBL Cup champions must now take on 5th-seeded Cheshire Phoenix for a chance to right the wrongs of last season’s final.
Head-to-Head information: 5-0 London
London dominated the regular season series between the two top-five teams, 4-0 and knocked the team formally known as the Ellesmere Port Jets out of the BBL Cup 74-65.
Coach Ryan Schmidt’s side averaged 84.75 points and held Cheshire to an average of 69.5 points across all four games. In their most recent encounter, GB national team stars Luke Nelson and Josh Sharma combined for 38 points off the bench.
Post-Season Team Stats…
London Lions: Lead the BBL in four of eight major playoff categories. However, London are currently bottom two in Free Throw Percentage and Blocks Per Game.
- Points Per Game: 103.5 (1st in the BBL)
- 3-Point Percentage: 47.3% (1st)
- Field Goal Percentage: 55.8% (1st)
- Free Throw Percentage: 67.5% (7th)
- Rebounds Per Game: 31.5 (6th)
- Assist Per Game: 25.5 (1st)
- Steals Per Game: 10.0 (1st)
- Blocks Per Game: 1.5 (8th)
Cheshire Phoenix: Currently top three in four major categories but are last in Blocks Per Game.
- Points Per Game: 93.0 (2nd)
- 3-Point Percentage: 39.6 % (2nd)
- Field Goal Percentage: 44.5% (6th)
- Free Throw Percentage: 71.2 % (5th)
- Rebounds Per Game: 31.5 (5th)
- Assist Per Game: 19.5 (2nd)
- Steals Per Game: 9.0 (3rd)
- Blocks Per Game: 2.0 (6th)
Defensive Wins Championships!
The London Lions and the Cheshire Phoenix currently occupy the top three spots in Points Per Game, 3-Point Percentage, Assist Per Game, and Steals Per Game.
This fact alone will cause London to lean on their two-way specialists, Josh Sharma, Tarik Phillip, Miye Oni and Mo Soluade, to set the tone on the defensive end of the ball. That said, expect Luke Nelson to get in on the Lions’ defensive tyranny, as the guard currently leads the post-season in steals per game (3.5).
The Phoenix have thus far struggled to convert inside the arc, posting a meagre 46.9 points (7th). London must exploit Cheshire’s inability to put points on the board in and around the paint and from mid-range.
However, with the Lions rooted at the bottom in Blocks Per Game, their rim protection will have to be “done by committee” and not left solely in the hands (no pun intended) of Josh Sharma.
Players to Watch: London Lions
Josh Sharma – Key Post-Season Stats
- 18.0 Points Per Game
- 89.5 2-Point Percentage
- 5.5 Rebounds Per Game
- 1.0 Block Per Game
Luke Nelson – Key Post-Season Stats
- 3.5 Steals Per Game
- 6.0 Assists Per Game
Players to Watch: Cheshire Phoenix
Amorie Archibald – Key Post-Season Stats
- 24.5 Points Per Game
- 63.6% 3-Point Percentage
Larry Austin – Key Post-Season Stats
- 13.0 Points Per Game
- 6.0 Assists Per Game