When May rolls around in Germany, the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, there are longer visits at the outdoor cafes in the night and the basketball in the easyCredit BBL is getting heated up with the playoff battles between ambitious teams. With the weather a lot warmer, the arena´s get a lot hotter and everything is sizzling with competitive and exciting basketball. But what has been happening in the spring of 2019? The weather has been warm and the arena´s have had that summerly warm feeling, but the sizzle has been as nonexistent as the usual dominance of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. Where Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard have been the main attraction of the 2019 NBA playoffs so has the term Sweep in the 2019 easyCredit BBL playoffs. Where was that next Rickey Paulding buzzer beater or that brilliant Josh Mayo game winner or that rare quadruple double from Rashid Mahalbasic in the playoffs? Where was that game winner by Tyrese Rice or Nikolais Zisis? Instead of seeing intense playoff battles going back and forth and games being decided in dramatic fashion, fans witnessed five sweeps out of six playoff series. In the last years there have been at least one five games series or even two or three, but none so far this playoffs. The 2019 BBL playoffs so far have been as unspectacular as France´s pathetic display in Turkey in a 2020 European Football qualifying game losing 2-0. The only refreshing and bright spot in the playoffs as well as the whole regular season was Rasta Vechta. The Cinderella story steered by head coach Pedro Calles wooed the whole league with their inspiring play and proving you can have success with a little budget. They faced off against Bamberg losing 4 tough games despite having a depleted lineup. Bamberg was the only team in this playoffs that was able to get a win while all other teams were swept in their playoff games. But maybe that spectacular series and ending will occur in the finals. The 2019 NBA playoffs saved it´s best for last as the Toronto Raptors totally surprised the Golden State Warriors and maybe now fans will get that spectacular five games series between FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin.
FC Bayern Munich faced off against a very tired Rasta Vechta, but they never gave up. Despite having some of their injured guys back with Seth Hinrichs and Clint Chapman, FC Bayern Munich remained unscathed and easily sweep the Cinderella team. FC Bayern Munich knew exactly where to attack Rasta Vechta which was down low scoring 38 points and totally dominated the boards 33-15 in game one winning 98-88. Rasta Vechta did a good job using their strength shooting from outside nailing 17 three´s, but FC Bayern´s offensive attack was too balanced as four guys scored in double figures and Devin Booker and Vladimir Lucic combined for 45 points. In game two, Rasta Vechta couldn´t take advantage of their home court losing 89-71. The Bavarian squad dominated inside more than in game one scoring 48 points in the paint and stepped up their defense forcing Rasta Vechta to 24 turnovers. FC Bayern Munich had only three guys in double figures scoring, but their overall offense was better balanced and got solid input from everyone and got 42 points from the bench while Rasta Vechta got only 20 points. In game 3, Rasta Vechta played a solid first half, but FC Bayern Munich broke away in the second half winning easily 95-80. They dominated in the paint again and controlled the boards 28-24 while scoring 38 points inside. FC Bayern Munich got four guys to score in double figures led by captain Danilo Barthel and Vladimir Lucic with 17 points a piece. The Munich bench contributed 26 points and Rasta Vechta only 6 points. TJ Bray saved his best for last exploding for 38 points against his future team. It has been reported that TJ Bray has signed with FC Bayern Munich, but so far the club hasn´t made it official.
Alba Berlin also had an easy time with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg winning two shoot outs on the road and buckling down on defense at home allowing only 68 points. In game one, Alba Berlin won 100-93 in Oldenburg. Even if the EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot well from the free throw line with 25/28, they allowed Alba Berlin to the line 44 times as they committed a miserable 31 fouls. Alba Berlin controlled the boards 31-24 and forced Oldenburg to 16 turnovers while only coughing up the ball 9 ties. Alba Berlin shot well from outside while keeping Oldenburg at 6/21 form downtown. Alba Berlin got a super performance from ex NBA player Peyton Siva with 26 points, while the big three of Oldenburg combined for 45 points. Mahalbasic and Cummings did their job scoring 21 points a piece, but Paulding was cold scoring only 3 points. In game two, Alba Berlin defended their home court and played brilliant defense winning 79-68. Alba Berlin didn´t only defend well, but had their offense rolling and sharing the ball great as they had six guys in double figures led by Rokas Giedraitis with 13 points. Alba Berlin also controlled the boards 37-30 snagging 13 offensive rebounds. The Oldenburg big three combined for 51 points, but little came from the rest getting only 5 points from the bench. Alba Berlin closed out the series on the road 100-93 dominating all important aspects. Alba Berlin shot 41,7% from outside while the EWE Baskets couldn´t hit much at 28%. Alba Berlin won the rebound duel 33-28 and coughed up less balls. Alba Berlin showcased four guys scoring in double figures and were led by another very potent Peyton Siva with 26 points. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg got 42 points combined from Mahalbasic and Cummings while Paulding only had 3 points, but got extended help from Franz Massenat and Nathan Boothe who combined for 34 points,, but once again had little input from the bench.
The easyCredit 2019 BBL finals is a dream matchup and is the first back to back finals with the same two teams since the 2004 and 2005 finals which featured Frankfurt and Bamberg. FC Bayern Munich swept the season series winning 83-81 at home and winning 85-75 in Berlin. FC Bayern Munich didn´t play their best basketball in the 83-81 victory being outrebounded 36-19, but forced Alba Berlin to 17 turnovers. Derrick Williams had a super performance with 26 points while Rokas Giedraitis hit for 22 points. In the return game in Berlin, FC Bayern Munich continued to have problems rebounding losing 29-22, but defended the three line better forcing Alba Berlin to 5/23 shooting. This could be a long series if both teams can play up to their potential. Unlike like last season where FC Bayern Munich wasn´t the lethal three point shooting team, this season they have proved that they have the ultimate inside out game. They shot over 40% from outside this season and 61% from the two point area. Alba might have the bit more beauty in their game, but stats don´t lie, they don´t shoot as well as the Bavarian team this season. A big weakness with FC Bayern Munich is their rebounding, but if they are hitting on all cylinders then rebounding isn´t as vital, but if they have an off night then the rebounding woes could be costly. Alba Berlin cough up the ball a lot and are shaky at the free throw line which could bs costly in the last seconds. Alba Berlin are a very good defensive team and now have a real challenge and will need to be consistent. The X-factor for Alba Berlin has to be Luke Sikma. He had a weak 2018 finals and 2019 Eurocup final, but maybe three is a charm for him and Alba Berlin if he can have an MVP type series. FC Bayern Munich have the better offense and when defending well will beat Alba Berlin in a four or five game series. But if Alba Berlin can scare and steal game one, then it could be a very tight and exciting series.