Round 14 saw the Taipans and New Zealand establish themselves as real title contenders.
With all eyes on the likes on Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, the Taipans and Breakers have become the hottest teams in the NBL.
Speaking of the Kings and United — who were under fire the week before for poor weekends — both responded with big wins. The Kings skipped a game clear of the Wildcats and did so without Lisch, Louzada and Moller.
United were able to put Illawarra away in the last quarter despite a spirited performance by the Hawks led by Todd Blanchfield.
Adelaide and Brisbane were both able to stay in touch of the top four while the Phoenix dropped to second last on the table.
The big news of the week came from out west as the Perth Wildcats made a roster adjustment letting Dario Hunt go for NBA big man Miles Plumlee to patrol the paint.
Stock Up: Lamar Patterson
Lamar Patterson has been body shamed and criticised heavily this season for how he looks and he’s perceived fitness level but he’s been able to shut down the critics with his play and Round 14 was no different.
Against the defending champs in a must-win game, Lamar piled in 35 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. He shot 70% from the field and went 3-for-6 from down town to help the Bullets to a 97-85 win.
Patterson is showing the NBL why he was in the NBL first team last season and why the Bullets wanted him back so badly. He is a crafty player that needs to put this Bullets team on his back if they’re to make it to the finals and he quite possibly could do it.
Stock Up: Wildcats roster change
If the Wildcats were to make a splash at the business end of the season, a change needed to happen with Dario Hunt and that’s what they did.
They were able to secure the services of seven-year NBA veteran Miles Plumlee. The 31-year-old is coming off a latest stint in China under Australian coaching legend Brian Goorjian but also comes with 347 NBA games of experience with the Pacers, Suns, Bucks, Hornets and Hawks.
He is an athlete that not only will put a lid on everything around the rim but more importantly gives the Wildcats some much needed rim protection and has an able body to go against the likes of Bogut and Long.
This is a massive upgrade and should be a warning sign for the rest of the league.
Stock Down: South East Melbourne Phoenix
The Phoenix have had their struggles of late. They have won only two of their last eight games and have seen themselves slide down to second last on the NBL ladder.
Last week in front of a sold out crowd at the State Basketball Centre they ran into a white hot Scottie Hopson and the New Zealand Breakers.
While they’re still averaging 98.1 points per game it’s been their lack of defence that’s hurt them. They were able to move on from Keith Benson this week and have two games in hand to qualify another player if they’re to make the finals.
To me they need another wing that can create and take the pressure off John Roberson. Mitch Creek, Tai Wesley and Dane Pineau who is coming off a 17-point, 20-rebound game are more than capable of holding down the middle. To me they need another creator at the small forward position.
Stock Down & UP: Bushfires & NBL Bushfire Relief
The nation has been rocked by these horrendous bushfires that have taken lives, seen millions of animals killed and devastated communities. The pictures that we’ve seen on the news, social media and the papers have been tough to look at.
Our country is burning and while some are trying to make political statements on the why I think we can all agree that we need to help the people/animals affected and play the blame game after the fact and not a moment sooner.
Seeing the overwhelming response of generosity and help from millions of Australians to help their fellow man or woman is heart warming. The NBL along with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association have pledged $1000 for every dunk and $300 for every three pointer this round in a way to show support.
It should be recognised that our Australian players in the NBA have also donated $1 million in an effort to help the cause. Players throughout the NBL have pledged money or auctioned gear in an effort to help, and to those I say thank you for your generosity.