Not a bad week of tips in the NBL Round 1 Preview, going 5/7. A very solid opening week of the 2015/16 NBL season with the crowd at the Townsville home game being the only real disappointing crowd. The coverage was very good, the NBL app worked and the on court play was great to watch.

Below is the preview of Round 2, all times are in AEDT and tips are in bold.

Wednesday 14th October

New Zealand Breakers @ Illawarra Hawks (7:30pm)

The Breakers split round one, with a loss against Adelaide to start the season and then a win against Townsville. The Hawks on the other hand lost both of their round one match ups, against Cairns and Melbourne.

The Hawks are playing very good basketball at the moment, even without Rhys Martin and also Kevin Lisch. There were a few head scratching moments in their game against Melbourne that lost them the game, by giving Melbourne a few easy baskets at the other end (e.g. Cody Ellis putting up a three point shot with 15secs left in a quarter, only for Goulding to streak down the court and hit a three at the buzzer; Ellis should have pulled it out for the final shot).

The Breakers still have a huge reliance on Cedric Jackson, more-so now that Corey Webster is still plying his trade in the US. Jackson is just about the only Breaker who can create his own shot and because of that, the 36ers forced him into shooting from range with some good defence and/or make other players hit shots and ultimately they won the game.

It’s hopeful that Lisch will return for the Hawks and being their first home game for the season, I think they’ll get it done.

Thursday 15th October

Townsville Crocodiles @ Sydney Kings (7:30pm)

The Kings caused the upset of the first round by defeating the Taipans easily in Sydney. They did it without Josh Childress as well, instead it was Jason Cadee and Julian Khazzouh who paced the Kings to a great win.

First game back in the NBL regular season and Julian Khazzouh acted like he’d never left. He finished with 22pts, 9rbds, 2asts, 2stls and 5blks with 64% shooting from the field. He absolutely dominated against Matt Burston, Alex Loughton, Mark Worthington and whoever else Cairns decided to play down low. Cadee also showed his continuing strong form with 19pts, 4rbds, 7asts and 2stls on 50% shooting.

The Crocodiles on the other hand lost both of their games to start off the season, they had their competitive moments but they simply don’t have enough firepower. Outside of Conklin they don’t have anyone that a rival team needs to really lock down on. Steindl has gone from the 4th or 5th scoring option to the 2nd and he isn’t coping with that yet and Jordair Jett is yet to show anything really.

With Childress a supposed day-to-day proposition and on the back of their strong home opener, look for the Kings to get their second win here.

Friday 16th October

New Zealand Breakers @ Perth Wildcats (9:30pm)

The Wildcats got a win in their only game of round one to get their season underway, with thanks to some fourth quarter scoring by Jermaine Beal, who finished with 18pts, 4rbds, 2asts and 1stl. Nathan Jawai also showed glimpses of what he’ll bring to the Wildcats on the inside and he was originally in doubt for that first game. The biggest battle for Perth will be at the defensive end with Damian Martin out and Cedric Jackson coming to town.

The Breakers shooting tandem of Everard Bartlett and Reuben Te Rangi proved too much for Townsville and could do so again, against the Crocs those two shot 8/10 from deep. These teams will be evenly matched on the inside, especially if Mika Vukona returns for the Breakers after missing the game against the Crocs.

The game will be won in the guard positions and out at the perimeter, Breakers to steal a win in Perth.

Adelaide 36ers @ Melbourne United (7:30pm)

The 36ers played a ripper game against the Breakers to kick the season off with Matt Hodgson starring off the bench. He finished with 18pts, 9rbds, 1stl and 3blks on 7/10 shooting. Adam Gibson had a very good defensive game on Cedric Jackson and Daniel Johnson started the season well although shot poorly. In their second game, against the Wildcats, the team as a whole shot poorly and Johnson was the only one who really stamped himself on the game. However, they did keep it close for three quarters until Jermaine Beal stepped up in the final quarter to draw the Wildcats away.

United won both of their games by double digits and look as though they are going to be the fastest team in the league this season at getting up and down the court. They put up 53 three point attempts over the two games, hitting 24 of them and Dean Demopolous has said that won’t change throughout the season. When you have Chris Goulding, Daniel Kickert and Todd Blanchfield, why would it? Illawarra showed some weakness in the United game on Sunday when they applied full court pressure to inbounds passes and instantly doubled the player who received the ball. Look for the 36ers to do the same right from the start.

United still have too many weapons in their starting five, plus Hakim Warrick coming off the bench. They don’t have great depth but at the start of the season, their legs are still pretty fresh. United to take this one at home.

Saturday 17th October

Illawarra Hawks @ Sydney Kings (5:30pm)

Tough game this one, it depends entirely on currently injured players; Josh Childress for the Kings and Kevin Lisch for the Hawks. Ultimately if Childress plays the Kings will win, if he doesn’t play then the Hawks will win.

Childress and Khazzouh will be too much inside for AJ Ogilvy to handle on his own. Larry Davidson, Oscar Forman and Tim Coenraad all lean more to the perimeter than to the post and Ogilvy could find himself in foul trouble early on. If that happens then the Hawks are no chance at all.

If Lisch plays then the Hawks will have a better chance at the offensive end and he will improve their perimeter defence but again, if Childress is playing and goes to work inside with Khazzouh then Lisch can’t help much with that part of the game. Lisch’s importance to the Hawks team is based around playmaking and his scoring ability; behind the injured Rhys Martin he would be the teams best playmaker and they were sorely missing that during round one.

I’m assuming Childress plays and if that’s the case, Kings win again at home. If he doesn’t play it becomes a battle of Khazzouh/Ogilvy and who can stay on the court the longest.

Townsville Crocodiles @ Cairns Taipans (7:30pm)

The Taipans got shocked against the Kings in round one but it didn’t help that they were unable to shoot the ball properly. Alex Loughton 4/12, Mark Worthinton 3/8, Torrey Craig 1/10 and Markel Starks 3/10 were all disappointing in that game. They all played much better in their win against the Hawks, especially Worthington who had a nice all-round game with 12pts, 7rbds, 4asts and 5stls.

If the Taipans can play their true defensive game, like they did against the Hawks then they’ll have no trouble dispatching of the Crocs; who only have Brian Conklin as their main scoring threat, at the moment anyway.