LG, Dongbu to start playoffs

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LG, Dongbu to start playoffs

The drama that finished the 2009-10 Korean Basketball League’s regular season is expected to continue when the first round of the playoffs tip off tomorrow as the LG Sakers host Dongbu Promy in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, starting at 7 p.m.

In a rematch of last year’s KBL Championships series, third-placed KCC Egis take on sixth-placed Samsung Thunders on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. in Jeonju, North Jeolla.

The KCC and Samsung series is the more intriguing of the two first-round matchups. KCC won the KBL Championships in seven games last spring, and bitter feelings remain from what turned out be a hard-fought and physical series. And earlier this year, Samsung traded its star player, Terrence Leather, to KCC for Micah Brand.

On paper, KCC is the better team. The Egis have the better win-loss record at 35 wins and 19 losses compared to Samsung’s 26 wins and 28 losses. In addition, KCC’s offense, led by Ha Seung-jin and rookie point guard Jeon Tae-pung, averaged 83.6 points and 34.1 rebounds per game, the best in the league.

In comparison, Samsung’s Lee Seung-joon struggled to find his niche in the team’s offense early this year, though he’s since found his place on the veteran-heavy roster. The Thunders average 79.5 points and 31.6 rebounds per game.

Although the defending champions are one of the most feared teams in the postseason, the two teams won three games apiece in six head-to-head matchups during the regular season.

In a five-game series, anything can happen. KCC’s center Ha Seung-jin is coming off a muscle tear in his left calf which he suffered during the All-Star game, and his physical condition will be the key to KCC’s success.

The Thunders, on the other hand, will depend on veterans Lee Sang-min, Park Hun-keun, Kang Hyuk and Lee Kyu-sup to pull off a first-round upset.

Led by the league’s leading scorer, Moon Tae-young, the LG Sakers look to be the clear favorites in the series against Dongbu Promy. LG recorded 34 wins and 20 losses while Dongbu managed 33 wins and 21 losses in the regular season. LG took the lead in six head-to-head matchups between the teams, four games to two.

For Dongbu to keep the series competitive, it will need its center Kim Joo-sung to recover from an ankle injury he suffered against ET Land on Feb. 27. Kim has not played in a game since injuring his ankle and how he recovers can be the determining factor in the series.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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