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Austin's own Toros are ready for the playoffs after record-breaking season

Austin's own Toros are ready for the playoffs after record-breaking season

After completing the season with a club record 33 wins, the Austin Toros (San Antonio Spurs) are set to begin the first round NBA Development League playoffs against the Erie Bayhawks (New York Knicks) Thursday at Tullio Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania.

As the D-League playoff format allows the division winner to choose their opponent, the third-seeded Toros left the decision to chance by literally pulling the Bayhawks' name out of a hat. The Toros had a choice between the Bayhawks and the Bakersfield Jam who had identical season records of 28-22. While the series starts in Erie, the Toros will have the opportunity to close out the first round of the playoffs on their own turf since they have home court advantage in the best-of-three game series. 

The Austin Toros are the first professional basketball team to make Austin their home. The club relocated to the Cedar Park Center last season after playing in the Austin Convention Center since 2005, when the Columbus Riverdragons first moved the club to Austin and renamed them the Toros. In 2007, the San Antonio Spurs acquired the Toros, and Austin became the second franchise to be owned by an NBA team after the Los Angeles Lakers bought the Los Angeles D-Fenders. 

The Erie Bayhawks are the New York Knicks D-League affiliate. The Bayhawks are a 2008-2009 D-Leauge expansion team whose name is a reference to Presque Isle Bay, where Erie is located. Former Knicks star and current Assistant General Manager became Director of Basketball Operations for Erie when the teams entered into a hybrid, exclusive three-year deal this season. Previously the Bayhawks were shared affiliations with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors. 

"We put both names (Erie and Bakersfield) in a hat and pulled it out," Toros coach Brad Jones said. "After we did all the research, we felt like all the teams were very, very similar and we couldn't figure out any angle except to put two names in a hat and pull one out," Jones continued.
 
"I'm not a big fan of choosing your opponent," Bayhawks coach Jay Larranaga said. "I like the tradition where the first place team plays the eighth-place team. I think the playoffs are interesting enough without adding this thing that we do."
 
In their only match-up during the regular season, the Toros handily defeated Erie, 111-88 on January 10 at the D-League Showcase in Reno, Nevada.
 
"Austin had been one of the top two teams in the league the entire year," Larranaga said. 
 
The Toros have a potent, balanced attack with 10 players averaging double figures. The offense was led this season by guard Justin Dentmon who finished the year ninth in scoring in the league. He and Carldell Johnson combined to average nearly 12 assists a game on the season. Dentmon was called up to the NBA by the Toronto Raptors on April 6.  
 
The Toros will host a watch party for the first game of the series being played in Erie at Big Daddy’s on Thursday starting at 5:30 pm. Fans can also catch the game on Futurecast, the free live web-streaming hub for all D-League games.  
 
The Toros will host TJ Ford Night on Sunday during Game Two when the series moves to Cedar Park. Ford is a former University of Texas star who lead the Longhorns to their first NCAA Final Four since 1947 during the 2001-2002 college basketball season.
 
Fans attending can enter to win autographed Ford Longhorn and Spurs jerseys, and take part in a post-game autograph session with Ford  and Toros player, Cory Joseph who has been reassigned to the club after a stint with the Spurs earlier in the season.
 
The Toros have asked fans to wear white to support the team at their game on Sunday. The first 500 fans to enter the Cedar Park Center will receive a free playoff t-shirt courtesy of Austin Cab.
 
Austin Toros (33-17) vs. Erie Bayhawks (28-22)
 
Game 1: Austin @ Erie — Thursday, April 12th 7 pm ET
Game 2: Erie @ Austin — Sunday, April 15th 4 pm ET
Game 3: Erie @ Austin — Monday, April 16th 8:30 pm ET (*game played if necessary)
 
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Playoff tickets for Round One games in Austin are available by calling the Toros office at (512) 236-8333 or visiting austintoros.com. Tickets start as low as $5.
 
Austin Photo Set: News_Greg_austin toros_april 2012_carldell johnson
Carldell Johnson of the Austin Toros. Courtesy of Austin Toros
Austin Photo Set: News_Greg_austin toros_april 2012_logo
Austin Toros
Austin Photo Set: News_Greg_austin toros_april 2012_carldell johnson
Austin Photo Set: News_Greg_austin toros_april 2012_logo