Having held their nerve in the last ten games, the Sharks have made it to the postseason and now are playing the Shanxi Dragons in a best-of-five playoff series. Chinese basketball is a strange place and it having initially thought it was going to be a ‘two games in Taiyuan, two games in Shanghai, game five in Taiyuan’ affair, it is actually the case that the first game will be at Shanghai with the subsequent two games to be played at Taiyuan followed by a further game back at the Yuanshen and if there is a game five, it goes back to Shanxi’s place (hence the re-edit). Yep, I’d never seen something like this either but regardless, get ready for February 22nd. Things are going to get LOUD.
The CBA website is running the schedule now and the Sharks’ fixtures are as follows with the final two matches only coming into effect depending on whether the Sharks can force a fourth and five game in the series.
Game 1 @ Shanghai: 2/22
Game 2 @ Shanxi: 2/24
Game 3 @Shanxi 2/26
Game 4 @Shanghai 2/29
Game 5 @ Shanxi 3/2
For its worth, here are the other ties in the opening round of the post season;
Guangdong Tigers (1) – Fujian Sturgeons (8)
Beijing Ducks (2) – Guangsha Lions (7)
Shanxi Dragons (3) – Shanghai Sharks (6)
Dongguan Leopards (4) – Xinjiang Tigers (5)
Guangdong should breeze through Fujian without too much problems and will play the winner of an intriguing series between Dongguan and Xinjiang in the semis- meaning that the reigning champions will either have to survive a Guangdong Province derby or a grudge match against a resurgent old foe to make it to the CBA finals.
The winners of the Sharks/Shanxi tie will face whoever gets out alive from Beijing/Guangsha- how close that series will be depends on whether Wilson Chandler is going to go all-out for his Lions team even though he will want to avoid an injury now that his NBA payday is looming. Regardless, I would make the Ducks the favorites due to Guangsha’s scrappy recent form but it certainly won’t be a cakewalk for Marbury’s boys.