The playoff picture became a little clearer after the dust settled from Round 18.
Sydney and Perth both clinched playoff births while Cairns and Brisbane seemed to all but shut out the chasing pack.
New Zealand jumped into 5th with a dominate win against a lackluster 36ers unit, then were awarded the victory against the Hawks even though the game was called off during the 3rd quarter.
Melbourne United got the job done against an undermanned Perth Wildcats outfit but failed to capitalise on the week with a narrow loss to Brisbane at the Armoury.
That loss saw them slip into sixth spot on the NBL ladder and will need a lot to go right for them to make it from here.
The biggest winner though was the celebration and recognition of Indigenous culture. From Danny Morseu to Nate Jawai, the NBL has been fortunate to have witnessed great indigenous role models play our game.
To be able to recognise and help reconcile through sport was amazing to watch.
STOCK UP: Brisbane Bullets & Lamar Patterson
Lamarvellous did it again.
In a must win game for both teams on Saturday night and a desperate United squad coming into town off the back of a good home win against the Wildcats, Lamar Patterson was dominant again.
Patterson pilled on 31 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes in a crucial win.
The Bullets have won seven out of the last eight games, mainly in part to the play of Patterson. He’s been ably supported by the emergence of Will Magnay who has secured their rim defence.
The whole Bullets cast have played better in the last six weeks. Hodgson, Sobey and Cadee have played at a better rate all since the lineup change was made of sending imports Braun and Singler to the bench and bringing Magnay and Gliddon in as starters.
With a massive game against New Zealand ahead of them I’m picking them to get the job done at home!
STOCK UP: Cairns Taipans
I feel I’m on repeat here but the Taipans are the real deal. After beating top four teams on the road this a season the only question mark on their season was the three losses to the Illawarra Hawks.
Last Friday they put that to rest with a devastating 24-point win and all but guaranteeing themselves an improbable finals birth. Their big three of Machado, Newbill and Oliver were at it again.
However, it was the overall play of the group that would have pleased head coach Mike Kelly.
The Taipans have played with a shorter rotation this season. With Kouat Noi out since Boxing Day their depth was tested but they have stood tall thanks to Deng, Djeric and the rest of their bench mob.
With only road games to close out the season I’d expect Machado to pick apart Adelaide’s switching defence and see the Orange Army/Crush (What is it these days? Liam Santamaria has me confused now) back into the finals again.
STOCK UP: Indigenous Round
What a success overall!!!!!!!
This round had it all when celebrating the Indigenous culture of Australia and New Zealand. The Uniforms looked great (Loved the shorts, get them out there First Ever). Players getting the custom shoes and the ceremonies before the game.
Watching the NBL follow the lead of the Illawarra Hawks last season was great to see and I look forward to watching this round and the designs from every year from here on out.
STOCK DOWN: Adelaide’s defence against New Zealand
Adelaide’s season while mathematically still a chance they are basically done. In the words of their coach Joey Wright “Slim to none and Slim just left town”.
Against the Breakers in a must-win game they gave up 113 points. Daniel Johnson called out his teammates behaviour as selfish in the post-game interview on court.
Now to be fair you cant judge Adelaide on points per game against as they player a higher tempo which equals more possessions but you can see that their is a lack of communication on defence that leads to breakdowns and easy/uncontested baskets.
They come up against a red hot Taipans team looking to punch their ticket to the finals and will find the going tough.
STOCK DOWN: WIN Entertainment Centre
The game between Illawarra and New Zealand was called during the third quarter because of a leak in the roof made play unsafe.
This is not the first time that this stadium has had it’s issues. The game and shot clock has been a constant issue for years and now this.
Hopefully the government can fix these problems ASAP because I truly great celebration was cut short due to poor maintenance of a stadium.