Not a great week for the tipping with New Zealand and Cairns causing a couple of upsets, finished with only three correct tips. This brings our total to 10/17, after a great first few rounds a poor round was bound to happen. We’ll get back on track this week.
Thursday 26th October
Brisbane Bullets v New Zealand Breakers (7.30pm AEDT)
The Breakers provided a nice surprise last round winning both of their games, one against Sydney at home and the other against hot favourites Melbourne in Melbourne.
It has been the play of their two import guards, DJ Newbill and Edgar Sosa, that has sparked a resurgence from the Breakers. Their defense has been top-rate and while they haven’t been able to consistently find their teammates in the right positions – they have combined for 17 assists in the past two games, a step in the right direction – they have been able to score themselves.
The Breakers play a screening game that can involve plenty of one-on-one play so that if one of their players beats their man they can take it to the basket or give off the easy pass to the help defenders man.
The Bullets in contrast play a quicker game with more ball movement, they will flick the ball around the court to find the open shot or lane and unfortunately for them thus far this season, that has lead to a number of turnovers. With players like Travis Trice and Stephen Holt leading the charge down the court, there is no other way for Brisbane to play. The Breakers defense will need to be on guard to stop those quick transition plays and drives by the Bullets back court.
While they did me in twice last week in regards to tips, I’m still not sold on the Breakers for this season. To me, this game will come down to which teams defense is able to stop the drives to the basket the best – the Breakers have the edge in the paint but the Bullets have it around the perimeter so making each other do the opposite will be the aim of the game. At home and on the back of a solid win against Cairns here last round, Bullets to sneak by.
Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks (9.30pm (AEDT)
The last time these two teams faced off, the Hawks were right in it until the third quarter began. Rotnei Clarke was causing troubles for the Wildcats defense and the Hawks own defense was limiting the firepower that the Wildcats possess.
The big watch this time around will be on Hawks star AJ Ogilvy. In the last game in Perth he spent the most of his time on the bench with four fouls and only provided two points and his terrible showing was thanks, in large part, to Angus Brandt who had a fantastic game for Perth.
The other side of the coin has the big watch on Bryce Cotton who, despite the Wildcats win, was toweled up by the Hawks defense – shooting only 1/5 from the field.
Last round the Wildcats had a good win against fellow league favourites, Melbourne United, but had a surprising loss to the Cairns Taipans (by a sizeable margin too). They will no doubt be stinging from such an unexpected loss and the Hawks are the unfortunate team that has to come up against them following it. The Hawks had a win against the Bullets at home and will be hoping to build off their first win of the season.
Having said that, the Wildcats will be looking to bounce back in a big way and their game plan will once again revolve around getting Ogilvy into foul trouble. Wildcats to win.
Friday 27th October
Cairns Taipans v Adelaide 36ers (7.30pm AEDT)
Both of these teams are coming off a good win in the previous round – Adelaide with a 30 point win over the Sydney Kings and Cairns with a surprising win over the Perth Wildcats (Cairns also suffered a loss to Brisbane to kick off Round 3).
The big news for this game though – the return of Josh Childress to the NBL. The 36ers finally got the import that they needed and wanted to complement the existing pieces. Mitch Creek, Josh Childress and Nathan Sobey streaming down the court will be downright scary for opposition defenses. Add to that the soft shooting big man Daniel Johnson (who torched the Taipans a couple of weeks ago for 32 points) and you’ve got a very tough team to stop.
Speaking of defenses, the 36ers come up against a team well known for their defense and one that has gotten better with the arrival of their own import from injury. Michael Carrera hit the court for the first time last week and went to work in the Taipans surprise win against the Wildcats. He showed athleticism and physicality down low which is something that the Taipans had been missing.
The 36ers will try to turn this into a track-meet and the Taipans will be trying to keep it to half court sets and using as much of the shot clock as possible, on both ends of the floor. The 36ers athleticism and the addition of Josh Childress will be too hard for the Taipans to contain and that will get the visiting team over the line.
Saturday 28th October
Brisbane Bullets v Melbourne United (5.30pm AEDT)
A tantalising matchup in the backcourt in this game – Travis Trice and Stephen Holt vs Casper Ware and Chris Goulding.
Brisbane would have already played a game earlier this round, at home, against the New Zealand Breakers who shocked United last weekend and it’s fair to say that Melbourne will be looking to come out fired up after that loss during their first home game of the season.
The key for Melbourne will be for them to play a good inside-outside game, so pass the ball in to the post then look for cutters or back out for the three once the defense collapses. They will also need to stop penetration from Travis Trice, in particular, of the Bullets.
For the Bullets, they should look at getting Josh Boone (United) into foul trouble early. Boone is leading the league in rebounding and the Bullets aren’t the best rebounding team. So nullifying the effect Boone can have on the glass will limit the second-chance opportunities that the Bullets would undoubtedly give up. They will need a big game from Trice and also Daniel Kickert will need to be paying attention defensively rather than just standing around on that end of the court.
Melbourne have more weapons than the Bullets on the offensive end and the Bullets will be relying heavily on Trice in this game. With the range of offensive options available for United and the Bullets not being a top defensive team, United should get the win here.
Sunday 29th October
Illawarra Hawks v Sydney Kings (3pm AEDT)
The last time these two teams played, it was the game that saw Kevin Lisch get injured and the Kings season really start making its way down the gurgler. Having said that though, the Kings actually won that game on the back of some hot shooting from Jason Cadee and a fantastic all-round game from import Perry Ellis.
The Kings will be wanting to replicate that win against the Hawks, especially coming off the back of a 17pts loss to the Breakers and a 30pt loss to the 36ers during Round 3.
To get the win, the Kings will need to do two things – 1) make their shots and 2) PLAY DEFENSE. Their defense last week was woeful and none of the players looked like they were even a little bit interested being at that end of the court. They will also need to stop two of three players from the Hawks to be in with a chance.
Those players for the Hawks are also the key to the team from Illawarra winning the game, they are – AJ Ogilvy, Rotnei Clarke and Demetrius Conger.
Conger has come on in leaps and bounds the last couple of rounds and the Hawks have really found someone in this high flying import. He is currently leading the league in points per game and has shown off a fairly consistent jump shot to go with his slashing and driving to the basket. Clarke is third in the league in points per game and every team knows that he is the one who can get the Hawks off to a hot streak at any point in the game. Ogilvy is the key to the Hawks though, he is their centrepiece, literally, holding down the middle of the court defensively and offensively. He got into foul trouble the last time these two teams played and will need to avoid that for the Hawks to get it done.
A 50-50 game that is tough to pick, on one hand the Kings can get hot and if they actually play some defense they could get the win. On the other hand, the Hawks have the players that could prove hard for the Kings to matchup with (e.g. Ogilvy, Conger, Nick Kay). The Hawks have home court advantage, I’ll give them the edge due to that.
Tips for Round 4:
BRISBANE v New Zealand
PERTH v Illawarra
Cairns v ADELAIDE
Brisbane v MELBOURNE
ILLAWARRA v Sydney