Well it came down to the final round of the regular season. Three teams fighting for one position and it was Melbourne United when it was all said and done who punched their ticket to the NBL finals.
Whilst New Zealand and Brisbane both got the wins it was percentage that got United across the line in the very last match of the season against the Phoenix.
Brisbane put on a show against the Taipans and left people wondering why that team didn’t show up all year, while New Zealand were able to fend off a scrappy Phoenix team.
Now that the dust has settled we know it’s Sydney versus United and the Wildcats taking on the Taipans. Let’s get into it.
Stock Up: Perth Wildcats
No Terrico White, no Bryce Cotton, no worries. The Wildcats looked ominous heading into the finals by dismantling a poor performance from the 36ers in Perth. Nick Kay was the star of the show and was ably supported by Clint Steindl and Miles Plumlee.
Having already secured a top two finish it was a clinical and methodical demolishing that has them firing on all cylinders heading into the finals.
On top of what was an already stellar regular season their star guard Cotton was also named league MVP. Once again showing his dominance as one of the greatest Wildcats of all time by being the first person in NBL history to lead the league in points and steals.
Stock Up: Melbourne United
Give credit where credit it’s due, United had been written off two weeks ago but found a way to scrape into the finals thanks to two impressive performances, especially against the Taipans in Round 20.
Chris Goulding was able to lead his team with a handy performance over the weekend averaging 25.5 points and shooting 11-for-23 from deep. As previously stated this should be Goulding’s team and when they needed him the most he showed up again.
Now that they have made the Finals they have the tough task of facing the Sydney Kings. If Goulding can work off on balls that has Bogut defending he should be able to get more good looks to go.
Stock even: Joey Wright
Joey coached his 500th game and also looks like he coached his last game at the helm of the Adelaide 36ers. Whilst it wasn’t the finest moment for the 36ers Joey has been one of the greatest coaches in the NBL.
With his no BS approach and love for the game Joey was able to push his players to the limits and rewarding guys for playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll see of Joey in the NBL, but whatever is the case he’s been one of the true characters of this league for a long period of time.
Thank you Joey!
Stock Down: Cairns Taipans
It was far from the ideal end to the regular season for the Taipans, committing 43 turnovers over the course of two games over the weekend which isn’t the best lead-up going into the pressure cooker of RAC Arena for a semi-final against the Wildcats.
With that being said, they’ll need all hands-on deck to combat league MVP Bryce Cotton and first team All NBL award winner Nick Kay. Cam Oliver and DJ Newbill will need to be on their A-game along with star import Scott Machado, who was voted the fans MVP, in order to beat the Wildcats.
The Taipans play an attractive and sometimes risky style of basketball but against the Wildcats they’ll need to secure the ball and have their star trio of imports lead the way.
Stock Down: Eric Griffin
Adelaide’s import played 2:27 in the 15-point loss against Perth and registered three turnovers. He wasn’t the lone ranger in the camp but if you want to see the true definition of an import “checking out” at season’s end, that’s what Griffin did over the weekend.