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HIVE FIVE: Swarm vs. Rock, take 3

5 Quick Stings for Faith & Family Night

Even with Georgia having a bye week last weekend, the NLL did not stay quiet. Friday night, the Toronto Rock were downed impressively by the Colorado Mammoth. The Rock fell to 7-7 and joined Buffalo, Georgia and Rochester for first in the East Decision. For a glorious 24 hours, four teams were tied in the East until Buffalo and Rochester ruined things with their respective wins. So, now Georgia sits in second place, tied with Toronto. And guess who’s meeting up on Sunday?

That’s right, the Swarm and Rock get to dance one final time during the regular season. Georgia has bested Toronto twice this season, the first time with a 14-13 OT win at The Hive and the second time 12-7 on the road. The Swarm already has the tiebreaker against the Rock since it took the season series, but with how close everything is in the East standings, Toronto isn’t just going to come to Georgia and roll over. Expecting a playoff-caliber game is far from unreasonable. The postseason is already on every mind of every player, coach and front office personnel in the East Division, due to the fact that the East is…

Super Tight

Teams in last have been within spitting distance of first place for weeks now. We’re starting to see some separation, but, given the temperamental nature of most of the Eastern teams, it’s possible we’ll see teams stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the rankings come April 29. Here are the standings right now:

Team Wins Losses Win % Games Behind
Rochester 8 7 .533 0
Buffalo 8 7 .533 0
Georgia 7 7 .500 .5
Toronto 7 7 .500 .5
New England 6 8 .429 1.5

I don’t want to get into the scenarios necessary for teams to make it into the postseason, cause that’s a headache, and I wish I didn’t know the answer. It’s taking up valuable brain space. But let’s at least focus on the Swarm. Georgia only faces two more Eastern foes this season, Toronto this week and New England on the road. The Swarm is already ahead in the season series with the Rock and the Black Wolves, but that doesn’t mean it gets to rest on its laurels. Winning a season series only matters in tie breaking implications. If Toronto or New England finishes with a better record than Georgia, then a season series win doesn’t much matter.

So, the Swarm really has two tasks ahead of it that it can control: beat New England on April 29 to clinch that series and don’t fall behind Toronto or New England. If it can do that and the two division rivals don’t surpass Georgia in the standings, then we get to see some postseason action. I’m all for that. It means we’ll get to see more of the…

Resurgent Thompson Brothers

Jerome Thompson doesn’t necessarily count for this Quick Sting since he spent most of the season out the back door. When he got the green light and stuck more to offense, he made the most of his opportunities and racked up 12 points (6G, 6A) quickly in his last four games, an average of three points per game.

Miles and Lyle Thompson are the focus of this Quick Sting. They both started off a little slower than most were expecting, although they were not the only stars in the league to not show their usually dominance early on. In the first 10 games of the season, Miles had 17 points (9G, 8A) and Lyle had 44 points (16G, 28A). In points per game terms, that left Miles with a 1.7 per and Lyle with a 4.4 per (which is good, but down from his 6.28 he averaged last season). Over the last four, Miles has upped his production and scored 17 points (7G, 10A), 4.25 points per game. Lyle, in that same span, has 20 points (14G, 6A), averaging out to five points per game.

Miles extra production is certainly noticeable. Lyle has been playing well all season, but his goal-scoring production has increased, like that one night he had five goals (and they were awesome). The Swarm is 3-1 in that four-game stretch, posting a 13.25 GF/GAME. Georgia is full of star forwards, and increased production for them is translating into better results for the team. It’s way better than, say…

Not having a forward score a goal in a game

Like what happened with the Rock last Friday against the Colorado Mammoth.

This is one of the more jaw-dropping (and head-scratching) facts to come out of the NLL so far this season. Kieran McArdle, Rob Hellyer, Brett Hickey, Dan Taylor, Adam Jones, Phil Caputo, and Reid Reinholdt all dressed for Friday’s home game, and only McArdle and Reinholdt recorded points that night, both an assist on the only settled Rock goal. Toronto’s defense did all the heavy lifting that game, with six defensemen scoring goals, Challen Rogers with two (his second goal was also the settled goal as he stayed out for an offensive possession). So, six Rock goals were in transition.

Toronto has had a hit-or-miss offense this season. It scored 13 GF against its first matchup with Georgia, but then the Swarm held it to only 7 GF a month ago. In that most recent game, all seven goals were scored by offensive players. Who knows what will turn up Sunday, but betting against a group of NLL forwards from being bageled two straight games is not a smart bet. If you are a gambler, you may be better off betting Georgia…

Wins a Third Straight Game

If it does, it will be the first time all season the Swarm has strung together more than two straight wins.

Yeah, that’s a little weird to hear. Georgia hasn’t strung together back-to-back wins since the end of Jan. when it downed Calgary and Vancouver over a three-week span.

We’d all like to see the Georgia Swarm win every game and go 18-0 in a season before sweeping the postseason. But let’s be realistic: that’s almost impossible. There’s too much parity and talent across the NLL. With that reality, it’s arguably all about when your team gets hot and starts stringing together wins. The Swarm last season started off fiery, cooled down a bit in March, then exploded in April, dropping only one of its last nine games, including the postseason (that ninth loss was the last regular season game when the Swarm had clinched the best record in the league). If Georgia’s getting hot again, then this is the perfect time. The East Division is close, and four straight wins to finish the season guarantees a spot in the postseason.

It’ll be fun to watch what happens with the Swarm. In person is always best as there’s just something about watching box lacrosse live that doesn’t quite translate to watching on a screen. But if you can’t come out to a game, it’s great to have a wealth of digital platforms at your disposal to watch the game on. There’s…

Twitter and the Upcoming B/R Live App

The NLL flexed its Twitter Game of the Week to this Sunday’s final showdown between the Rock and the Swarm, and the timing couldn’t be better given the playoff implications this game will have. This comes on the heels of the big announcement from the NLL that it has partnered with Turner Broadcasting to be a part of Turner’s new streaming service “Bleacher Report Live.” For the 2018-19 season, NLL games will be streamed live and on-demand through the B/R Live app, right alongside some of the biggest sports leagues in the world. It’s huge for the NLL and continues in NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz’s plans for a digital-first league.

Big things are coming the NLL’s way. Expansion, huge digital platforms, and an increased pool of talented lacrosse players to dip into. It’s a great time to be an NLL fan, a great time to be a Georgia Swarm fan. The product on the floor is already exciting enough, but the growth league-wide coming down the pipeline is practically enough to make one salivate. Be excited.

Georgia Swarm Pro Lacrosse Team