Sydney Kings @ Perth Wildcats
Friday, Dec 14th. 9:30pm EST
Perth Wildcats were defeated by the Sydney Kings in round four. The Wildcats continue to show great resilience, only going down by 5 points against a full-strenth Kings oufit despite the absense of Bryce Cotton.
Nick Kay continues to push for his first NBL 1st team selection with another solid performance in round eight. There is nothing flashy about his game but his offensive growth this season and ability to dominate the boards has the red army singing his praises.
Andrew Bogut makes his first appearance out west and I’m sure will be highlighted by the red army. Bogut who has played in many hostile environments will no doubt be ready to shut the stadium up and with the added incentive of having the last laugh with Wildcats head coach after Trevor Glesson shoved the marquee big man towards the end of the game last week.
It’s an absolute cracking game to start the round and we’ll be able to see if Andrew Gaze has been able to grow at all as a coach by being able to adjust from last week’s game. Bryce Cotton returned from a hand injury and will no doubt be itching to get redemption against the team that beat them without his presence.
Keys to the game
- Look to stifle Jerome Randle
- Brandt and Jervis to use their fouls wisely against Bogut
- Production off the bench
- Bogut & Randle to get involved early
- Kickett to get open looks
- Gaze to make adjustments
Fact: Sydney’s road game results this year have alternated every match so far —
R2 lost at Adelaide by 5
R2 won at New Zealand by 23
R4 lost at Melbourne by 7
R5 won at Adelaide by 12
R7 lost at Melbourne by 2
R8 won at New Zealand by 1
Tip: Perth are undefeated this season at home and I think they’d be eager to make amends after last week’s loss in Sydney. The game within the game will be the interaction between Bogut and the WA crowd. I’d expect this one to be a highly emotional, playoff atmosphere type game. Perth are too strong at home for me.
Adelaide 36ers @ Brisbane Bullets
Saturday, Dec 15th. 2:30pm EST
Brisbane had Melbourne United twice last week and now have a team breathing down their neck trying to get 4th spot. Ruben Te Rangi has been one of the most improved players this season. His offensive game has been outstanding, his three has been consistent and but it’s his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rack that’s taken him to another level.
Adelaide wouldn’t have forgotten the Cameron Gliddon buzzer beater in Adelaide a few weeks back that probably sparked the change in imports from Adris DeLeon to Demetrious Conger. Conger who came in before the FIBA window would have felt more comfortable in his surroundings and understood his expectations of Joey Wright. I’d expect his production to go up from here.
This game will go a long way in sorting out who makes the Finals. With Perth, Melbourne and Sydney all seemingly looking playoff bound, everyone beside the Taipans are vying for that last spot in. I believe one of these 2 teams will round it out and I’d expect both teams to lay it all out in this one.
Keys to the game
- Cadee & Gliddon to get more open looks
- Bairstow staying out of foul trouble
- Hodgeson to make a statement against old club
- Conger to step up on both ends
- Sobey to facilitate more
- Joey Wright to fire up the 36ers defence
Fact: In their last 4 wins at the Convention Centre, Brisbane have scored 100, 108, 104 and 97 at an average of 102.2 points per game making the Bullets the highest scoring home team in the NBL in the past 7 weeks.
Tip: Brisbane are playing better basketball now. Adelaide just keep shooting themselves in the foot. Cadee starting to run into a little form. Lamar Patterson just looks better and better every time he steps on the court while Gliddon, Vukona and Hodgeson continue with their production.
Sydney Kings @ Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, Dec 16th. 2:30pm EST
Illawarra have been tough at home this season. With big wins against Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Rob Beveridge is one hell of a coach. He’s able to get the best out of his players and he’s done it again with Todd Blanchfield leading the way this season. His defection from Sydney has rejuvenated his career and with the extra responsibility he wanted he’s produced to this point.
Sydney will be coming back from a Friday night game in Perth. The Kings got the better of Illawarra a few weeks back with Bogut being dominate with an array of behind the back moves and posterising dunks to make a statement. Former MVP’s Jerome Randle and Cedric Jackson will go head-to-head while Kevin Lisch will look to make a splash as he has fond memories of the rings in the gong.
Over the years it hasn’t mattered where these two teams are on the ladder because of the rivalry that brings out the best in both. Sydney look to chase down Melbourne and Perth ahead of them while trying to end the Hawks chances of playing in the playoffs this season. Both teams obviously want the win but also bragging rights for this in state rivalry.
Keys to the game
- Cedric Jackson to set up Blanchfield, Jett, Conklin and Ogilvy
- Conklin to dominate his opponent in the paint
- Zone to stagnate Kings offence
- Bogut, Bogut, Bogut
- Bench production coming off the Perth trip
- Limit Illawarra to one shot
Fact: All 4 games played by the Kings at Illawarra under Andrew Gaze have been decided by 6-points or less –
2017 Round 2: Kings win by 4
2017 Round 9: Kings win by 6
2018 Round 4: Kings win by 5 (overtime)
2018 Round 7: Hawks win by 4 (overtime)
Tip: Sydney should take out this one. I don’t see how they’re able to handle Bogut and it looks like Bogut loves making a statement against his former junior Australian coach and AJ Ogilvy. The Hawks will continue to show their toughness in this one though and the fact that Sydney are coming off the trip from the West I’d expect this one to be close.
New Zealand Breakers @ Cairns Taipans
Sunday, Dec 16th, 5:20pm EST
Tough times in the Taipans camp. A dejected DJ Newbill stood and gave one of the more disheartening and honest post game talks after their loss to Illawarra. His response to how to turn things around “I don’t even know right now”. Trimble and Newbill continue to play well. Devon Hall and Nate Jawai are now playing at another level but after that, there is a steep decline.
New Zealand find themselves in a world of hurt too. They currently sit 7th on the ladder and even though they showed a bit of ticker against the inform Sydney Kings, they still fell short. Corey Webster and Patrick Richard ate donuts combining to go 0-15 from the field. Jarrad Weeks was sensational off the bench going for 19.
Plain and simple this is two teams not playing great basketball. The Taipans need to win this one because if they don’t, I don’t see how they’ll win at all at home this season. The Breakers need to win to try and get their season back on track. Either way I want to see emotion and desperation basketball.
Keys to the game
- 3 imports to score 70% of the points
- Jawai to negate Long’s influence
- Start playing team defence
- Richard and Webster to get early looks
- Tai Wesley to dominate the paint
- Defence and run
Fact: New Zealand’s biggest win of the year was by 23 against Cairns in round 5. Taipans biggest loss was by 23 against the Breakers in Auckland.
Tip: I can’t tip the Taipans. I won’t tip the Taipans. Having commentated all Taipans home games this season I can tell you the belief from the players isn’t there. The belief of the fans isn’t there. You can feel how disappointed everyone is. Now, they will beat someone else this season but just not on current form. Turnovers and lack of depth are killing them and the Breakers should take full advantage of it.
Perth Wildcats @ Melbourne United
Monday. Dec 17th, 7:50 EST
Bust out your popcorn and turn on all notifications for Homicide (@chomicide) on twitter because this is the rematch we’ve been waiting for. The last time these two played there was controversy in the end with Casper Ware being denied a basket at the death for a United win. Since then we’ve been waiting for the rematch as what looms to be a true indicator of who the NBL favourite should be.
Melbourne United was beaten twice on the weekend, going 0-2 to the Brisbane Bullets. United’s best basketball is good however their bad basketball made them look like a team that will get bundled out of the playoffs. Casper Ware has been carrying this team and now needs help from Goulding, Kennedy and McCarron.
The Wildcats rebounded from a 5-point loss against Sydney with a convincing win against cellar dwellers the Cairns Taipans. Bryce Cotton returned from injury to have 21 points while Nick Kay continued his push for All-NBL claim with 15 points, 8 rebs and 6 assists.
Keys to the game
- Lock in on Cotton
- DJ Kennedy and McCarron to post up more
- Boone to dominate the boards
- White and Steindl to be productive off the bench
- Hunt the Offensive glass
- Be stubborn on defence
Fact: Perth’s last three road games have all been decided by 5-points and every game has been decided by single figures —
Perth’s road games –
Round 1 won at Adelaide by 8
Round 3 lost at Brisbane by 4
Round 5 won at Illawarra by 9
Round 6 won at Cairns by 5 in overtime
Round 7 won at New Zealand by 5 in overtime
Round 8 lost at Sydney by 5
Tip: I’d expect that United will be up for this one. After a disappointing weekend against the Bullets they can ill afford another slip against the team above them. Perth are coming off a big game against Sydney and two wins would almost make them impossible to knock-off as minor champions.