September 5th is quickly approaching with the PLL Semi-Finals hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are down to the final four teams in the championship tournament; Chaos, Atlas, Waterdogs, and Whipsnakes. I will break down each match-up as well as give you guys a few picks of who I think will make it to the PLL Championship game.
Atlas vs Chaos
We are in for a treat this weekend as the #2 seed Atlas play the #6 seed Chaos. This game has two key points that I feel will be the deciding factors on the outcome. Those points are faceoff percentage and save percentage.
Trevor Baptist, The Atlas starting faceoff specialist, is among the best in the world at his position. With a 61% faceoff win percentage, Baptist leads the league in one of the most important aspects of lacrosse; Possession. Control of the ball in a playoff game can be the single most important factor. You can’t win a game if you’re constantly playing defense.
On the other side of the stripe, we have Max Adler; Chaos’ faceoff specialist. Having a 50% faceoff win percentage, Adler and the Chaos are among the worst in the league at winning faceoffs. This may not be much of a problem during the regular season but in the playoffs it’s everything. Possession is 9/10th of the law and just as important when winning playoff games.
The only other factor that is as important as ball possession is saving percentage. Funny enough, the Chaos has had a 61% save percentage on the year while Atlas is saving 50% of the shots they face. Lead by Blaze Riorden, Chaos starting goaltender, the Chaos has been a dark horse playoff run because of Riorden. He has been known for having 2nd half performances where he’ll shut out a team’s offense for an entire quarter. When this happens, it gives the Chaos the momentum and opportunity to steal a game late.
The Pick: Chaos Moneyline +130
When making this pick, the expression “defense wins championships” kept repeating in my head. It is hard to bet against the team that’ll possess the ball longer, but possession doesn’t win games if Atlas can’t score. 1 unit on Riorden and the Chaos to stir up Chaos in the PLL Semi-Finals.
Whipsnakes vs Waterdogs
The 2-time reigning champion, the Whipsnakes, face the Waterdogs in the other Semi-Final matchup. The Whipsnakes have won every championship in the short tenure of the PLL while the Waterdogs are an expansion team having come into existence in the 2020 season. Don’t let these facts fool you though. The Waterdogs are a real contender this year and they’ve been playing injured. On the other side, the Whipsnakes have seemed to struggle this year. Their offense has been less dominant and their defense has shown weaknesses in certain matchups. The key factor in this matchup will be defense. Both teams have shown a lot of offensive capability, but both have struggled in key areas such as save percentage and faceoff percentage. When both of those factors are a coin toss, it’ll come down to which defense is able to put up a fight.
The Whipsnakes may have the most devastating offensive pairing with Matt Rambo and Zed Williams at attack. The pairing has been leaders in the last 2 playoff runs with Zed Williams having the championship-winning goal in 2020. My biggest concern with the team is their defense. The Whipsnakes were ranked 6 out of the 8 teams this year on the defensive end giving up an average of 12.6 goals a game.
On the other side of the stripe, you have the Waterdogs. A team that has had some bad luck with injuries. Their first pick overall in the 2021 draft, Michael Sowers, has only played 2 games so far thanks to an injury from a high hit. That hasn’t stopped the offensive and defense production for the Waterdogs. They struggled at the beginning of the season but have gained some serious momentum going into the playoffs. The defense is ranked 2nd in the league only giving up an average of 10 goals a game. I know that sounds like a lot of goals, but in lacrosse, anything below 12 is considered good.
Another factor is the offense. The midfield and attack have produced tremendous numbers with each having multiple players with 20+ points on the season. This is without Sowers. Michael Sowers is expected to play in the Semi-Final match, giving the Waterdog offense a serious weapon below the Whipsnakes GLE. I expect Sowers to come out similar to his days playing in Princeton controlling the offense from X and putting up ridiculous numbers. When this kid is healthy, there is nobody more dangerous than him.
The Pick: Over 24.5 goals at -110 and Waterdogs Moneyline +100
I am betting 1 unit on each of these picks. I believe the Waterdogs will have the ability to limit the Whipsnakes power duo (Williams & Rambo) while producing results on the offensive side. Both teams are capable of putting up 20 points alone, so that is why I am also betting the over.
Best of luck this weekend. If you end up following the picks, leave a comment below letting us know how much you win!