We got off to a pretty good start to the season with our tipping, missing out on only one game (four of five correct) – the very first game of the season, that spectacular game between Adelaide and Melbourne.
Thursday 12th October
Cairns Taipans vs Adelaide 36ers (7.30pm AEDT)
The Taipans and 36ers both played two games in Round 1, the Taipans winning both of their games and the 36ers splitting their two. Both of these teams had one very physical, up-and-down game to start Round 1 and one easier game to finish the round.
The Taipans have unfortunately lost Nate Jawai for 12-14 weeks with a partial ligament tear in his foot. This is a big loss for the Taipans because in the first half of their first game last week, he absolutely dominated the Illawarra Hawks and looked to be in for a big season.
The 36ers have picked up a new import in Alan Wiggins Jnr, a 33 year old, 11 year pro who has been all over the world, however he won’t be available to play in this game.
In this game I expect the 36ers to be too athletic for the Taipans to contain, even with the usual tough defense that they will undoubtedly face on the night. Mitch Creek, Nathan Sobey, Anthony Drmic, Ramon Moore and Shannon Shorter are a handful for any team, let alone one that isn’t rife with athleticism. Daniel Johnson will also cause so headaches for the Taipans frontline – Nanna Egwu will have his hands full with DJ.
The Taipans will try to slow the game down and make it a half court game on their offensive end and if the 36ers get into a slow style of play themselves, it will suit the Taipans. Scoochie Smith showed some glimpses last weekend but needs to watch his fouls and remain on the court for Cairns, if he can’t adjust to the NBL game he will find Mitch McCarron, Jarrod Weeks and Damon Heuir rotating through the one guard spot more.
Adelaide will make this a track meet and Cairns will struggle to contain the athleticism the 36ers boast. The home crowd and Cairns defense in half court sets could keep the game close but Adelaide will get the chocolates.
Friday 13th October
Perth Wildcats vs Illawarra Hawks (9.30pm AEDT)
The Wildcats did what the Wildcats do when they hit their home court last weekend and this time it’s the Hawks that have to make the trip West. The Wildcats made short work of the visiting Brisbane Bullets and should extend that home streak once again.
The Hawks had a bruising game against the Taipans to kick off their 2017/18 campaign, just falling short with an unfortunate foul to Alex Loughton who hit the winning free throw for Cairns.
Most of the offensive workload landed in the laps of Rotnei Clarke and AJ Ogilvy once again for the Hawks, Demetrius Conger showed glimpses of what he can bring to this league but Hawks fans will be after more. Clarke and Ogilvy need more support and against a Wildcats team that can flat out score and play good defense, the supporting cast of the Hawks will really need to step up.
For the Wildcats, Bryce Cotton and JP Tokoto showed exactly why everyone is so excited to have them in the red of Perth. Tokoto is a defensive hound and even his sideline/baseline inbounds defense causes chaos for opposing teams.
Ogilvy is the key for the Hawks in this game. The Wildcats don’t have anyone who will be able to completely blanket him throughout the game and if he can remain out of foul trouble, he could give the Wildcats fans a bit of a scare. I’m expecting Perth to be too strong on their homecourt however, with their imports once again running riot.
New Zealand Breakers vs Sydney Kings (5.30pm AEDT)
New Zealand had a disappointing but not surprising game against Cairns to kick off their season and will be looking to atone for that homecourt loss when they face the Kings.
The Kings also suffered a homecourt defeat but can use the excuse of jet lag from their trip to the US for a dismal second half. With a normal week under their belts, the Kings will be much better for it and will push the Breakers to breaking point. The Breakers are a tough team but Round 1 showed exactly what everyone was worried about with the team – there is still no one who can set things up and make it easier for their slashers/shooters.
On the flip side, the Kings have a number of talented players and have Kevin Lisch who is very good at making plays for his team but the team still relies too much on him and Brad Newley. Last week against the 36ers it was Newley who scored 24pts but he had little support from others, with the exception of Lisch who scored, assisted and rebounded throughout the game. Perry Ellis and Travis Leslie need to get more aggressive on the offensive end and affect the game.
The Breakers could worry the Kings if they hit the court with a tall lineup, outside of Isaac Humphries the Kings are undersized with Perry Ellis playing the centre role. Humphries will need to up his intensity and watch his fouls to keep Alex Pledger and Rob Loe off the glass and out of the paint.
If the Breakers get their inside game working, they could trouble the Kings with their size and ferocity but if they can’t get that game working, then the Kings will beat them in transition and with their raft of shooters, will make them pay. Kings in a close one.
Saturday 14th October
Adelaide 36ers vs Melbourne United (5.30pm AEDT)
A rematch of the opening game of the 2017/18 season and what a game it was! Melbourne came from behind to steal a two point win against the 36ers. Last week they weren’t travelling back from the US however and could suffer some effects of a fast paced, tough game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (where they were oh-so-close to stealing a win!).
Melbourne will still be without Chris Goulding (appendicitis) but the 36ers should have their new import Alan Wiggins Jnr in their lineup for his first game in the NBL.
The 36ers showed just how good they are last week, hanging with Melbourne (who is more highly touted than them) and then demolishing the Kings a couple of days later. As mentioned in their earlier game preview, it is their athleticism and defense that separates them from most of the other teams in the league – they will once again need all of that against United. Daniel Johnson had an off game the last time these two teams played and 36ers fans will be hoping he can play more like the Kings game once again. Ramon Moore also had a quiet game against Melbourne but came good against the Kings, so the same goes for him.
United played their hearts out against the Thunder of the NBA earlier this week and it will be interesting to see how much they have left in the tank about the tough game and long flight back to AUS. Casper Ware and Josh Boone had big games in their old stomping ground of the NBA and those two should be better suited than their teammates for the effects of travel and game.
For the 36ers to win they need big games from Daniel Johnson and Ramon Moore, if they had turned up to play in game one of the season, the result would have been different. Not just from a scoring standpoint but from a rebounding one too, United beat them convincingly on the boards and those two need to curtail that this time around.
It will be another close game and Adelaide will want to make up for that home defeat last weekend, so it’s them that will get over the line with an improved effort from DJ.
Sunday 15th October
Sydney Kings vs Illawarra Hawks (3pm AEDT)
The second game of the round for both of these teams and they are both very similar to each other in the respect of relying on a couple of people to do most of the heavy lifting.
AJ Ogilvy should be able to manhandle the undersized Kings front court and the defense of Mitch Norton and Kevin White should make life difficult for Kevin Lisch. A great match up to watch will be Demetrius Conger and Brad Newley. The latter might be getting on in years but he can still slash to the basket as good as any of them and Conger showed glimpses of his scoring prowess during Round 1.
It will also be a battle of the sharp shooters coming off the bench – Rotnei Clarke for the Hawks and Jason Cadee for the Kings, smart money would be on Clarke as the more consistent of the two shooters but Cadee can get hot in a hurry.
This game is a real 50-50 game and it depends a little on how the Kings go earlier in the round against the Breakers. If Travis Leslie and Perry Ellis (and even Todd Blanchfield who was quiet in Round 1) play well against the Breakers, then the Kings go into this full of confidence while the Hawks come in off, what is expected to be, a tough game against the Wildcats. Kings to get their second win of the weekend, just.
Tips for Round 2:
Cairns v ADELAIDE
PERTH v Illawarra
New Zealand v SYDNEY
ADELAIDE v Melbourne
SYDNEY v Illawarra