...And Down the Stretch They Come!The Way I See It...
By Andrew Mason
July 31, 1997
TAMPA, Fla. - This is it---the final weekend of the 1997 regular season. For the first time, the Storm does not enter their final game with a playoff berth wrapped up...but that could change by kickoff Saturday night.
If Albany (6-7) loses at Iowa (10-3) in a game that kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EDT, two and a half hours before the Storm and San Jose tee it up, then the Storm will be in the playoffs, win or lose.
But even if that circumstance bears itself out, the game will be far from meaningless. Even if the Storm is not playing for a postseason berth, crucial seeding will still be on the line.
So given the Storm's two possible results, here are the potential playoff scenarios regarding each one.
If the Storm wins......then Tampa Bay will be the No. 6 seed, no matter what else happens. If Milwaukee (7-6) beats Portland Friday night, they would be tied with the Storm and SaberCats at 8-6. The Storm own the tiebreaker advantage over those two clubs in a three-way scenario, because of a better record against common opponents. A head-to-head tiebreaker does not come into play because while the Storm played both San Jose and Milwaukee, those two teams did not play each other.
So that answers that question...fairly simply. Win, and the Storm are the No. 6 seed, with a first round trip to play the No. 3 seed. So who will that No. 3 seed be? Three games affect that scenario...Albany (6-7) at Iowa (10-3), Nashville (9-4) at New Jersey (9-4) and Florida (4-9) at Orlando (9-4).
Here are the various combinations of results and the Storm's playoff opponent:
Iowa wins; New Jersey wins; Orlando wins: Storm is at Orlando.
Iowa wins, New Jersey wins, Orlando loses: Storm is at New Jersey.
Iowa wins, Nashville wins, Orlando wins: Storm is at Nashville.
Iowa wins, Nashville wins, Orlando loses: Storm is at Nashville.
Iowa loses, New Jersey wins, Orlando wins: Storm is at Iowa.
Iowa loses, New Jersey wins, Orlando loses: Storm is at Iowa.
Iowa loses, Nashville wins, Orlando wins: Storm is at Iowa.
Iowa loses, Nashville wins, Orlando loses: Storm is at Nashville.
OK, those are the scenarios if the Storm wins. But a loss to San Jose is a possibility---remember, folks, these SaberCats have claws. They've won four in a row and six of seven---not too shabby.
If the Storm loses......Then it will all depend on the Albany-Iowa result. If the Firebirds win, then the Storm will be out. If they lose, then the Storm makes it in as the No. 8 seed. There, the Storm would take on Arizona. The Rattlers have clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and face a meaningless season-ender Thursday night against the hapless New York CityHawks.
And that's the way I see it.
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