By Ian Jackson (@IanNicholas42)
The BIG3 takes its talents to South Beach this week as the Sunshine State gets to host more important games to set up the league’s playoff picture.
All the action centers around a three-game slate Saturday night at the home of the Miami Heat, American Airlines Arena, as half the league gets the bye weeks they didn’t get two weeks ago when a similar schedule went off in Salt Lake City.
The six teams in action this week — 3 Headed Monsters vs. Enemies, Power vs. Tri-State and Ghost Ballers vs. Trilogy — feature only two teams (Power, Trilogy) firmly in the playoff race, which takes the top six of the league’s 12 teams.
Former Heat players Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and Carlos Arroyo all return to Miami this week, a nice story for South Florida, but the league will miss its two most exciting players this season for this primetime slate.
It could be argued that Will Bynum and Joe Johnson deserve the weeks off after their most recent performances in their respective stops at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont and the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee this past weekend, both men enhancing their arguments for league MVP consideration.
Saturday, Bynum set a new BIG3 record with 33 points as Bivouac improved to 4-3 on the season with a win over Killer 3s. Also, in the games just outside Chicago, defending champions Power continued their impressive streak in beating Enemies as 42 of its 50 points were scored by players with Chicago ties (Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson, Carlos Boozer and Julian Wright).
On Sunday, Joe Johnson delivered once again as the league-leading Triplets improved to 6-1 on the season. Johnson stopped the show this time with a step-back four-point game-winner. Also, Aliens’ Greg Oden continues to impress, tieing his career high of 18 points to upset Andre Emmett and 3’s Company.
Power could continue to gain momentum after last week’s win as they face Tri-State. A win would put Power in a tie at 6-1 for best record in the league with the Triplets, who they managed to beat in Week 5, so a No. 1 seed for the playoffs could be within the grasp of the defending champs.
Meanwhile, 3-Headed Monsters (2-4) are pretty much in spoiler mode right now, they’ll look to take down the Enemies, who claim the sixth and final playoff spot entering this week.
Ghost Ballers, tied with the Enemies (3-3) but on the wrong side of a tiebreaker, could boost itself in the top six but they got to out-do the red-hot Trilogy (4-2), winners of their last four games.
Player to Watch: Will Bynum
Will Bynum brought his A-Game to the crib, putting up a BIG3 single game record 33 points against Frank Nitty and the Killer 3s in his only trip to his hometown this season.
Interestingly enough, another Chicagoan — Corey Maggette — held the previous record of 32, which he scored in a 2018 game. Maggette will have a chance to establish a new record this week, but we’ll have to wait until next week when the BIG3 heads to the BIG D (Dallas) to see if the league’s top little man can make another big impact.
Play of the Week: Iso Joe Does It Again!
Joe Johnson delivers the top play of the week as he nails the step-back, four-point game winner in Milwaukee to give his Triplets a 6-1 record and the league lead for the moment.
Like Bynum, we’ll have to wait another week for more Iso Joe magic, but through the first seven weeks he’s provided us plenty to work with already.
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