The Storm's series with Halifax has become a battle royale

Published on May 18, 2017

Tirrell Baines of the Island Storm is listed as day to day with a dislocated finger.

©Jason Malloy/The Guardian

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - If you think basketball isn’t physical, then lace ‘em up for the playoffs.

Only the tough survive the post-season and so far the Island Storm has survived in its National Basketball League of Canada series with the Halifax Hurricanes.

But just barely.

In Game 2’s 122-118 overtime loss in Halifax, N.S., Storm forward Tirrell Baines suffered a dislocated finger and a day after the game centre Mike Allison underwent X-rays to see if he’d broken his right orbital bone near his eye.

Halifax fared no better as Ta’Quan Zimmerman (bruised heel) and Mike Poole (hamstring) were already out and the Hurricanes lost forward C.J. Washington in the fourth quarter.

Storm head coach Joe Salerno doesn’t like to see any man down, but like the players he understands after 40-plus games no team still standing is healthy in the playoffs.

“It’s a totally different animal,” said Salerno, who doubles as Storm vice-president of player personnel. “Game 2 was very physical, (but) I think those guys will be in (Thursday).”

The best-of-seven Atlantic Division final is tied 1-1. Game 3 in the best-of-seven matchup is Thursday, at 7 p.m., at the Eastlink Centre.

Game 4 is Saturday, at 7 p.m., at the Link and, given that the Storm won its only two regular season games against Halifax in Charlottetown, Salerno is glad for the venue change.

The Storm went 13-7 overall in the regular season at the Link and is 1-1 at home in the post-season.

“We know we had a very good record at home all season. There’s a great atmosphere at the Eastlink Centre (and) the guys genuinely feed off that energy. It’s now a five-game series with three at home for us,” said Salerno.

Splitting the opening two games of the series in Halifax was crucial for the Storm against at larger Hurricanes team propelled by a very good front court.

So far, Halifax out-rebounded the Storm 102-91 in two games, but the Storm’s 99-52 advantage in bench scoring and a 50 per cent to 49 per cent field goal shooting edge has evened things out.

“Our depth has proved to be a strength. The guys are really competing. We’re a much smaller team in size and physicality, (but) they’re leaving it on the court,” said Salerno. “We have a lot of confidence after (winning) the Saint John series. I think we’re hitting our stride when it matters most.”

Game 5 is Monday in Halifax. Tipoff is 7 p.m.