With Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3 in the books, the Robellion have taken a 2-1 lead over the Globe TRONers in the very first Swoops seven game series. Though this is not technically a championship, or a playoff series, both teams will still take home a "Thanks For Being Super Helpful" trophy as their efforts in this series assist us in continuing to fine-tune the Swoops Simulator, the players and how they interact, as well our post-season and tournament structures.
More importantly for these two owners though, the winner will have supreme bragging rights for a while. Those are worth their weight in gold.
What isn't worth bragging about however, is the continued subzero play of both teams in the first quarter.
As was the case with the first three games, both the Robellion and the Globe TRONers have come into the game like they just got out of a polar plunge.
A missed three from Hakeem Olajutron, a missed three by Chuckbacca, a missed three from Droidmon Green, a missed lay-up by Luka Skywalker, Olajutron has a dunk blocked, a missed three from Sith Curry, an air-balled 16 footer from Olajutron, a mid-range jumper by Droidmon is blocked by Jabar the Hutt, then finally with 6:46 to go in the quarter the first shot is made: A lay-up from Luka.
2-0 Robellion lead.
Thankfully, this is a series with more than one tradition, and in accordance with another one of these customs, once the cold spell was broken the scoring temperature was turned up like it was Game 1 of the 2014 Finals.
Droidmon headed to the line for the first Globe TRONers points, Jabar hit a little baby hook, Doge McDermott got on the board with a three, Sith Curry peeled around a screen for a middy, and both teams were officially cookin'.
After a lot of back-and-forth, tough defense to force tough shots, some made, some missed, the quarter ended on a floater from Jabar the Hutt which he was fouled on by Green. Jabar was able to convert the three-point play and broke the tie to put the score at 25-22 in favor of the Robellion.
It may have been the Robellion who were able to serve the first dish, but it was Doge McDermott who took over as head chef. To get the second quarter started, Doge stepped into a 24 foot pull-up above the break on the Globe TRONer's second possession and sank his fifth three of the night on just six attempts, bringing him to 17 points on just a little over a quarter of work so far. Ding-ding, order up!
The TRONers were going to need everything Doge had tonight, as Olajutron (who last game looked to be shaking off the cobwebs) was not only 0-5 on the night to this point, but continually putting Jabar the Hutt on the line. Three times in two minutes, Jabar was able to get post position on Hakeem and force the issue for a foul. Even when Olajutron was able to do the same on the other end he was only 2-5 from the line so far.
Jabar and Hakeem's battle-at-the-stripe saw reinforcements arriving on the horizon. Peeking over that line was Kobe Wan Kenobi and Chris Webbrowser, who both found their way to a couple of free throws, allowing the game to slow down, and giving their big men a needed reprieve.
After a missed bunny from Jabar, he trotted up on defense and fouled Droidmon on a jumper after getting caught on a switch. It was clear that the Hutt was still a bit sluggish from his bump and grind with Olajuwon, and the Globe TRONers took notice and took aim.
The Robellion tossed the ball inside to Chuckbacca who found himself on an island and was pushed out to sea by Webbrowser, sending off a 13ft flare which fizzled before it could reach it's needed height. This gave the TRONers a chance to push the ball up quick and Rajon Trondo found McDermott in transition for his sixth three of the half, giving them their first lead of the game, 42-40.
Chuckbacca was given another entry pass down low as he took over for Jabar as the Robellion's momentary offensive fulcrum. The Robellion were wanting to continue their foul-seeking play from Game 3 and force the issue around the rim, but were finding it tough to do so. As soon as the pass entered, Rajon Trondo came down and forced Chuckbacca to dribble the ball of his foot, and who else picked up the scent but Doge McDermott who grabbed the ball and ran it to the other end for a 24ft bomb.
Sandwiched in between a couple of overzealous heat-checks from Doge was a Luka Skywalker double-apple-turnover, a Webbrowser tres leches, and something for the Robellion to chew on as the Globe TRONers found themselves with a 48-40 lead heading into the half.
As the third quarter started it seemed to be that the TRONers were going to take Robellion's recipe and try to improve on it. They were racking up the trips to the line and going for seconds. Immediately Rajon Trondo called for a screen from Webbrowser and found him on the switch, allowing the ever-important forward to pick up an easy foul on Sith Curry who was forced to foul him on the backdown.
Jabar was able to rehydrate and came back down for an easy two the next play, then helped to force the Olajutron turnover, and the next defensive possession would get a huge block on Doge, pinning his shot to the backboard and finding a streaking Chuckbacca down court for the dunk.
The Globe TRONers weren't going away though, as Droidmon Green hit his second three of the night, Webbrowser intercepted a poorly timed dish from Curry, and finally on his eigth attempt Hakeem would make his first shot of the night: A 25ft rainbow three which he was fouled on by Kenobi. He badly missed the free throw but was able to launch himself forward for the offensive rebound and tip it to Trondo in the backcourt, who found Doge McDermott in traffic for the alley-oop. 58-44, the Globe TRONers get their biggest lead of the night.
The Robellion didn't want to get too desperate, but knew their prior formula for success was simply not doing it this game. Some on the fly adjustments led to a rare Chuckbacca three, and slid Luka Skywalker down on the block a few times who was able to outmaneuver Droidmon Green for a couple of fancy finishes down low.
Both squads hit their stride offensively with a little under four minutes to go in the third quarter. Combined with the rapidly increasing pace, it had gone from frozen hot dogs in the sink to some fresh-out-the-oven cookies and a feast for both team's main options.
Kobe got to the line again, Jabar made a few shots, Doge put in a couple, and Hakeem...well...Hakeem went 3-6 from the line. Still, the volume is there for him if he wants to start making them!
At the end of the third quarter, after a buzzer beating Skywalker three, the score would be 75-67, Globe TRONers.
The Robellion got the ball to start the fourth and just like last quarter found Jabar the Hutt on the block for two. Trondo smoked a lay-up after blowing by some sloppy transition defense, but the ball ended up in the outstretched fingertips of Webbrowser who volleyballed it back in.
Chuckbacca, who was still uncharacteristically roaming around the outside, sank another three off a pass from the Luka Skywalker posted-up pylon delivery system.
The next trip down for the Robellion, it was Sith Curry who had the ball kicked out to him for an open three. Here. Come. The. Robellion.
A missed three from Droidmon Green would get the ball back in Luka's hands who slid it into Jabar in the post, and was able to get his arms up and a shooting foul was called on a distraught Green who was positive the foul should have been called before the act. The Hutt delivered two hot 'n fresh free throws to make it a two point game with 6:30 to go.
Channeling his anger for good, the fuming Droidmon got a screamer of a pass from Doge and drained a 26 footer to put the fire out. Webbrowser would pop in a 14 foot jumper to push the lead back to seven, but the amped up Green would be unable to re-center himself and was in danger of single-handedly burning the Globe TRONer lead.
First he would send Sith Curry to the line on a silly shooting foul. Then he would hold the ball out a little too far on offense as he waited for a play to develop and turned the ball over to Luka. That would turn into a Robellion fast break where Green would hustle back down the court and clobber Jabar on his lay-up attempt. Jabar would sink two, and after a few misses from both teams, a very poor 27 foot three-point attempt from Droidmon that hit nothing-but-glass, and a Jabar lay-up attempt on the other end that he would make this time, the TRONers were on their heels.
In addition to that lay-up it was now time to check-in with Chris Webbroswer, as it was now under three minutes left to play, and we've seen in the first three games of the series, Webbrowser in crunch time is the deciding factor. As fate would have it, Webbrowser fouled Jabar on his lay-up attempt and gave him the old-fashioned three point play.
The Globe TRONers now led by only one point, 84-83. Here we go again?
The next play down the TRONers got it to Hakeem who missed another lay-up, now 1-10 on the night. Maybe not the best choice, but the Robellion were doing everything they could to funnel the ball to the struggling center.
Sith Curry grabbed the board raced down the other end like he had a plate of fajitas in-hand, found Luka in the lane, but he slipped and missed the floater.
The ball quickly went back down the other end, again finding Olajutron, who Kobe Wan Kenobi wisely fouled as he was drop-stepping into a dunk. The first free throw clanked off the back iron to the delight of the Robellion who were still just down one. The second one, rattled, rolled, and dropped in. Two point game.
With the Robellion desperately needing a bucket, Jabar the Hutt got it in the post with five seconds left on the shotclock, but Olajuwon poked it free as Jabar rushed his shot. Hakeem was rewarded with the ball as he flashed down the middle for a picture-perfect Trondo dime, but Ewing'd the gimme for his 10th missed shot of the night.
Luka grabbed the board, pushed it up quickly, and tossed it to Kenobi who shot a difficult 15 foot fader. Nothing but net. Tie game, 85-85.
The next play, with the Robellion denying Doge the ball, the check was passed to Olajuwon again who had his credit card declined--but--a banking error resulted in Jabar being called for the foul. Hakeem, once again, split the pair to put the TRONers up one, 86-85.
The Robellion had found success pushing things up the court quickly, perhaps trying to get the ball into the half-court before the giant line-up of the Globe TRONers could get up the floor and set their defense, so they kicked it into lightspeed and ran a give-and-go with Jabar and Luka that resulted in an uncontested lay-up for Skywalker. The first Robellion lead since it was 40-39 near the end of the second quarter.
One minute to go. 87-86, Robellion in control.
In an attempt to give them a taste of their own medicine, Droidmon sprinted the ball up the court and found himself an open 27 foot three. All things considered, I think the Robellion are willing to leave that open 24 hours, and the shot pinged wide-left off the rim. Chuckbacca corralled the ball and called for the team to slow things down with 58 seconds left.
Skywalker came to get the ball and called the play, a hammer action which Luka ran with Jabar to feign the TRONers into thinking it was going to be another attempt at the rim. Instead, it was a step-up screen that allowed Sith Curry to break free to the corner for a wide open three. Luka lasered the ball between the defenders to Sith who caught it, set, let it go, but barely missed as the shot soup bowled around the rim and flew out to a crashing Doge McDermott.
The TRONers pushed the ball up quickly, looking to get a two-for-one opportunity and give themselves some time to get the ball back if they miss the shot. There was 34 seconds left in the quarter when McDermott grabbed the rebound, and 29 seconds left when the ball found--you guessed it--Chris Webbrowser.
All eyes were on Webbrowser who, as we have come to expect, held the fate of the game in his hands. Chris looked up at the shot clock to check the time, took one hard dribble, and went up strong to the rim where he was promptly fouled by an undersized Luka Skywalker.
Webbrowser stepped up to the line and sank the first, refreshed, then sank the second. 88-87, the Globe TRONers had taken back the lead.
But, just like all of us on the Swoops team, the TRONers were tunnel visioned on Webbrowser's free throws and didn't notice that Chuckbacca had snuck to the other side of the court and was wide open under his own basket!
Jabar took the ball out after the Webbrowser made free throw and effortlessly launched it down court, like a dinner roll from one end of the dining table to the other, and Chuckbacca had the easiest two points of his life.
The score was now 89-88, the Robellion regained the lead in shocking fashion, and in only taking two seconds off the clock have given themselves a chance to get the ball back again if the TRONers make a shot. Unbelievable!
The TRONers were dismayed, frustrated, stunned. All except Droidmon Green, who just remained angry and was reaching the boiling point.
The ball was inbounded to Doge who calmly brought it up the court. The Globe TRONers were looking for the best shot they could get and ran a series of picks to try and probe the defense. Each time they were locked up by the Robellion. No entry. The ball swung around the perimeter to Trondo, and Doge curled around Webbrowser who set a screen to try and get him open. The ball came back to Doge, but there was no shot to be taken. Kobe Wan Kenobi was absolutely glued to the sharpshooter.
With 6 seconds left on the clock Doge was forced to get rid of the ball and jumped up to angle a pass over the defense back to Rajon Trondo. Trondo looked to see if Doge was coming back for the ball and after seeing he wouldn't make it panic-passed it off to Droidmon Green who grabbed the ball, set towards the basket, and turned into Ben Gordon Ramsay as he hoisted a 24ft three from the wing that bounced once, twice, three times from one end of the rim to the other before going in.
The boiling pot runneth over, but just barely, 91-89 Globe TRONers regain the lead.
The Robellion still had a full eight seconds left to work with to tie and go to overtime or fire back with a three of their own to take an all-but-over 3-1 lead.
Skywalker inbounded the ball to Kobe Wan Kenobi, who got an immediate screen from Jabar the Hutt, but he feigned it and immediately popped out into space on the left block and at the exact same time Kenobi threw the ball ahead of him. No delay, a perfect entry pass.
Olajuwon tried his best to get back to Jabar and reach his hand up to contest, and might have been able to affect the release, as Jabar's 11 footer rattled in-and-out and the buzzer sounded.
The game was over and the Globe TRONers had won an all-timer to even up the series 2-2. Final score, 91-89.
This was an incredible game. Seriously, incredible. Crazy back-and-forth stretches of plays, runs to even things up, a little redemption for Olajutron at the end, and a whole lot of redemption for Webbrowser.
Looking at the box score, at first glance it seems crazy that the TRONers only won by two.
They completely flipped the script on the Robellion and were the team living at the line this game. 16 more FTs than their opponent and 8 more makes, which could have been a lot more if Hakeem didn't end up going 8-16 from the stripe. On top of that they won the turnover battle by a +8 margin, were able to keep under double digits on their end, and were picking the Robellion's pockets all night. Not to mention they hit 15 threes on nearly 42%!
Still, looking at the Robellion there's a lot they can hang their hat on. They shot 48/48/88 as a team! That's outstanding and most nights would ensure the W. They won the rebounding battle by a margin of 6 and their offense came easier, more in the flow of the team, as they won the assist battle as well. If it were not for the 17 turnovers and only a combined 8 stocks, they may have had control of this one from beginning to end.
Doge McDermott is back as your Player of the Game, narrowly edging out the 27/10 hero of the night Droidmon Green.
Doge filled up the stat sheet tonight putting in a game high 31 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and only one turnover. That 31 came on an unreal 70% TS by virtue of his 9-16 night from three. All bite, no bark tonight. Fantastic.
This series is all tied up and the games just keep getting better.
Game 5 is coming up next and you will not want to miss it.