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The 2015 NBA D-League Finals Blog: Behind the Scenes in Fort Wayne and Santa Cruz

By Brian Kotloff | April 26, 2015

NBADLeague.com and @NBADLeague are on the scene as the Santa Cruz Warriors and Fort Wayne Mad Ants play for the 2015 NBA Development League championship.

From shootarounds to the final buzzer and everything in between, go behind the scenes in our 2015 Finals blog:

More 2015 Finals Blog: Warriors Celebrate Title


Klay Thompson, Draymond Green in the Building for Game 2

Making quick work of the New Orleans Pelicans freed up the Golden State Warriors schedule during the normally hectic playoff time, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green used the time to catch the NBA D-League Finals at Kaiser Permanente Arena, about 70 miles south of Oracle Arena.

Among the strong Warriors contingent also in attendance are co-owner Joe Lacob and son Kirk Lacob (Golden State’s assistant general manager), general manager Bob Myers and associate head coach Alvin Gentry.

 
This Halftime Show…

what a halftime show here in Santa Cruz!! @dleaguewarriors #DLeagueFinals

A video posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

 
Taylor Griffin Drops the Hammer

Like younger brother, like older brother. Warriors forward Taylor Griffin slips the screen, cocks it back and throws down the slam to energize the Santa Cruz crowd:

 
Live: Warriors, Mad Ants Get Set for Game 2

After losses in two straight NBA D-League Finals, the Santa Cruz Warriors have taken the Kaiser Permanente Arena floor with a chance to clinch their first-ever title, while the Fort Wayne Mad Ants are looking to force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Monday night.

Click here for the Three Keys to Game 2.

 
Sunday, 4:15 PM ET: Game 2 Tip-Off Less than Three Hours Away

 
James Michael McAdoo Assigned to Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz will have a different starting power forward in Game 2 on Sunday night after James Michael McAdoo’s assignment from Golden State on Saturday.

It’s been a whirlwind season for the rookie out of UNC, who was called up in January after impressing Golden State with his stellar play in Santa Cruz.

“Right now, it hasn’t really hit me — to be on the best team in the NBA,” he said afterward. “The path that I’ve gone to get there is really unheard of.”

 
Saturday, 6:30 PM ET: The Mad Ants Are in the Building

Jordan Crawford has arrived on Warriors ground for @fortwaynemadants practice #DLeagueFinals

A photo posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

NBA vet Jordan Crawford on Fort Wayne’s 10-3 record since he joined the team after a season in China:

“When I got here, we all gelled together. I came to the Development League to show teams that I’m ready to be back in the NBA. I didn’t think that we’d be in the D-League championship right away.

So once I was here, I accepted it. And I was fortunate enough that [the Mad Ants] accepted me, so I thought, ‘might as well try to do all that you can do.’ And it’s fun winning.”

 
Saturday, 3:15 PM ET: Welcome to Santa Cruz

Kiwi Gardner breaking it down! @easy_ki @dleaguewarriors (Via "NBADLeague" on Snapchat)

A video posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

After a travel day on Friday, it’s back to work for the Warriors and Mad Ants as the series shifts to Santa Cruz. Both teams are holding shootarounds on Saturday at Kaiser Permanente Arena ahead of Game 2, 7 PM ET on ESPNU — when Santa Cruz has the chance to clinch the title with a win.

150425_warriors-huddle_700

 
Game 1 Rewind: Mad Ants, Warriors Prepare for Tip-Off

Game 1 of the NBA D-League Finals featured a Mad Ants’ first-quarter three-point barrage, two highlight-reel dunks by Warriors guard Elliot Williams and a rousing Santa Cruz comeback that foreshadowed a rousing Golden State comeback.

The wild night for Dub Nation had former SC Warrior Seth Curry jumping out of his seat:

Seth reaction

Check out more photos of the two teams preparing for the championship matchup:

150424_game-1-photos_700

 
Three Pacers in the House at Game 1

While rookie teammate Shayne Whittington took the floor on assignment with the Mad Ants, Indiana Pacers George Hill, C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez supported their teammates from the sidelines during Game 1 in Fort Wayne.

Indiana is the closest of the Mad Ants’ 13 NBA affiliates, and Mad Ants star forward C.J. Fair spent much of the summer with the Pacers before missing the opening night cut.

 
Game 1 Warm-Ups at the Coliseum


 
Mad Ants Alums Send Shoutouts

From Hawks big man Mike Muscala (assigned for six games this season), Clippers wing Dahntay Jones (called up in January after 19 games) and the playoff hero from a year ago, Tony Mitchell.

 
The Vet: Ramon Harris on the Rematch

Thirty-two different players suited up for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants during the 2014-15 season, a consequence of having 13 NBA affiliates in a league where the other 17 teams are singly affiliate with an NBA franchise.

That didn’t stop them from reaching the Finals for the second straight season after sneaking into the playoffs as the East’s No. 4 seed and extending their postseason winning streak to 10 straight games.

The constants have been head coach Conner Henry and three-year Fort Wayne vet Ramon Harris, who’s emerged as one of the emotional leaders in the locker room.

“Everybody that’s been a part of our team, they’ve all been a part of it. There hasn’t been anybody that’s been outside the group, whether they came from the NBA or they came from free agency or whatever the case may be,” Harris said before Thursday’s Game 1. “That’s why we’re here right now.”

The 26-year-old former Kentucky Wildcat — who delivered the postgame speech amid last year’s title celebration (see above) with an almost entirely different group — is not surprised that the Warriors are also back in this position.

“I just felt like if we made it, that would be the team that we could face, and here we are.”

 
Gameday: Warriors, Mad Ants Hold Morning Shootarounds

Sights and sounds from Thursday morning’s team shootarounds at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum:

 
Who Ya Got?

#TBT…From the archives.. Are you rolling with John Cena & the @fortwaynemadants or Snoop & the @dleaguewarriors?? #DLeagueFinals

A photo posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

 
Game 1: Thursday, 8 PM ET, ESPNU

 

The namesake of the @fortwaynemadants is ready…are you? The championship charge begins again tonight at 8pmET, televised live on ESPNU

 

A photo posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

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