SANTA CRUZ — Everything is falling the Warrior’s way right now.
First the 2-0 sweep of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, then the fall of the Bakersfield Jam to the Austin Toros and let’s not forget the sensational play of Jeremy Tyler since the beginning of the playoffs.
In the past three games Tyler has played like a player that deserves to be in the NBA. Not only has he been averaging 28.3 points per game since their April 6 match-up with the Jam, but he has also been ridiculously efficient. In those three games he has been shooting 77 percent from the field and he’s gotten to the free-throw line 32 times.
“I’m just getting into more of a flow,” said Tyler following his 25-point and 11-rebound performance against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Saturday. “When I was (with Golden State) I was sitting a lot, and now I feel like I’ve gotten into a better rhythm.”
Although Tyler won’t receive his dream of facing Bakersfield again this season, his dream of making it back to the NBA seems within his grasp.
After being traded from Golden State to Atlanta, Tyler was released by the Hawks. The Santa Cruz Warriors picked up the 6-foot-10 forward and it has been a match made in heaven since.
Not only do the Warriors get a dominating big man to pair with their gargantuan 6-foot-11 center Hilton Armstrong, but Tyler also gets a chance to prove to teams around the NBA that he does belong in the association.
“I’ve definitely been playing with a chip on my shoulder,” said Tyler of coming back after being waived by the Hawks. “Trying to get back and playing hard. I’ve just been playing with something to prove. I think by winning this championship and continuing to play hard that will all workout.”
The most impressive attribute that Tyler has shown in his time in Santa Cruz has been his unselfish demeanor. Warrior’s head coach Nate Bjorkgren has said that he loves having Tyler come off the bench to spell Taylor Griffin, and Tyler has been embracing his newfound role.
“I’m fine with whatever coach has me doing,” said Tyler. “I’m not going to try to run what he has going. It’s been working for us, so I don’t’ mind. We’ve got a team of great guys that’s playing for each other and not playing for themselves and I think that’s why we’re so successful.”
Another reason this team has been so successful is the energy that the Santa Cruz home crowd has given them. In the regular season the Warriors were 19-5 while playing in Kaiser Permanente, and that bodes well for the Sea Dubs after the Austin Toros upset the Bakersfield Jam.
They will travel to Austin on Wednesday to face the Toros and NBA D-League number one prospect Lester Hudson. Hudson is coming off of a 28-point performance against the Jam, but has yet to face the Warriors this season.
Austin and Santa Cruz did face-off earlier in the year however. The Warriors suffered a 96-78 loss on Jan. 8.
Make no mistake, though, the Warriors match-up better with the Toros than the Jam.
The Warriors were just 1-4 against the Jam this season. Two of their five losses at Kaiser came at the hands off the Jam.
The Toros, on the other hand, just squeaked into the post-season and don’t have a 6-foot-11 center that can shoot the three, a la Brian Butch of the Jam.
The most important thing about having home-court advantage is that game one is not do-or-die.
Is it critical? Maybe, but it’s not the end of the world.
The Warriors have gone on an eight, a four and a seven-game home winning streak this season.
The pressure is once again going to fall on the Warriors big-men. Armstrong, Tyler and Griffin all have a good size advantage on the Toros front line. Expect Bjorkgren to continue to feed Armstrong and Tyler, and for them to continue to gobble up points and fouls.
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