Round 4 of the NBL season is set to be a ripper, with plenty of intriguing encounters.
Wednesday 28th October
Illawarra Hawks @ Townsville Crocodiles (7:30pm)
In their one game last round, the Hawks let the win slip away when they took on the Perth Wildcats. Kevin Lisch made his return to the floor and showed glimpses of what’s to come, Kirk Penney had a poor shooting night and AJ Ogilvy went head-to-head with the Wildcats big men.
The player that’s on everyones mind from the Hawks though is Agent 97, Jarrad Weeks. He had another steal and break-away dunk that lit up the crowd and his energy and hustle has made him a league wide favourite.
The Crocs stole a win from under the Wildcats nose with some hot shooting at the end of that game by Mitch Norton and Leon Henry. In their other game though, they got absolutely smashed by Melbourne United.
United showed the weakness in the Crocs defensive game and it’s one that the Hawks are perfectly equipped to exploit; perimeter defense. The Hawks have the inside (AJ Ogilvy) and outside (Lisch, Penney, Foreman) game that will make it exceptionally difficult for the Crocs to stop them from scoring.
Cairns Taipans @ New Zealand Breakers (5:30pm)
Corey Webster returned to the Breakers lineup and made an immediate impact as he helped his side get one over the Sydney Kings in round three. He was able to take some of the defensive focus away from Cedric Jackson and with one game under their belt together again, they will only get better.
The Taipans lost both of their games in round three, one to the Adelaide 36ers and the other to Melbourne United. Questions are now being asked about their import Markel Starks and with Scottie Wilbekin being waived by the Philadelphia 76ers, is it only a matter of time before they switch it up?
Cairns needs to stop shooting the three ball and focus on getting it inside where players like Alex Loughton, Cam Tragardh, Matt Burston and Mark Worthington can go to work. The same could be said for the Breakers, Cedric Jackson is shooting the ball from outside a whole lot more so far this season than he has previously and they aren’t going down. Both teams should play inside and it could come down to who hits their free throws. The two Jacksons, Corey Webster and being in NZ have me leaning towards NZ in a close one.
Thursday 29th October
Perth Wildcats @ Melbourne United (7:30pm)
When will they suffer their first loss? United have moved to 5-0 after defeating the Crocs easily and then the Taipans by 9pts. It could come against the Wildcats, while Hakim Warrick is sidelined with a groin injury.
The Wildcats should look to take the ball inside at every opportunity and get Majok Majok in foul trouble. This will force Chris Patton off the bench who has played very little so far this season. Kickert is no real threat down low as he doesn’t rebound the ball and isn’t a shot blocker. That’s how the Wildcats should look to score, their difficulty will come in stopping the United offensive weapons and that’s where United will still come away with the win.
With Damian Martin still likely to miss, the Wildcats defense has not been the same without him. Stephen Holt, Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield will have a field day creating shots for themselves and each other.
Friday 30th October
Townsville Crocodiles @ Sydney Kings (7:30pm)
The Kings will want to get this win back after the Crocs beat them in round two in Sydney. Josh Childress is out of action for approx. 4 weeks and the Kings have simply brought in another former NBA player to fill the void. Al Harrington is making his way to town and will be a huge force paired with Julian Khazzouh.
Ball movement around the perimeter will be the key for the Kings. if they can get the Crocs defense scrambling then they will not only open up Khazzouh on the inside for one-on-one matchups but will find open shooters around the perimeter. They just need to have patience on offense to find that good shot.
Jordair Jett played well against the Kings last time and it was his game that got his side over the line. This game could go either way depending on whether or not Jett turns up to play and if Conklin finds his touch again. I’m giving it to the Kings purely on being their home court and wanting to avenge the shock loss to the Crocs two weeks ago.
Saturday 31st October
Illawarra Hawks @ Perth Wildcats (9:30pm)
In a rematch from Sunday’s game in round three, the cracker of a game it was, the Hawks will have figured out the Wildcats and much like United they have too many weapons on their team. The Hawks will be stinging from letting the game last round slip from their grasp in the final quarter and there were some poor shot selections made in the last 2.5 minutes that gifted Perth the win.
Lisch will have another game under his belt and should be finding his shot better than their previous meeting and Kirk Penney can get hot at any time.
Perth need to go in with the same gameplan they should use against United. Go inside and get the starting big man in foul trouble, there isn’t much back up for him.
I don’t see them doing that though, with Shawn Redhage and Jesse Wagstaff loving their own shots whenever they’re on court. Hawks will win this with a spread of point scorers.
Cairns Taipans @ Adelaide 36ers (7:30pm)
Adam Gibson is simply the man at the moment. He had a great game against Cairns and then followed it up with an even better one against Sydney. He’s been ably supported by Daniel Johnson and new import Jerome Randle has settled in wonderfully already.
This is a game where the Taipans really should get the ball inside. Daniel Johnson isn’t the greatest defender and if you can get him in foul trouble early because of his panic defense then they will have taken away on of the main offensive weapons on the 36ers team.
Gibson has Markel Starks’ number as shown in their win during round three and I can’t see that changing. Adelaide to get another home win over last seasons Grand Finalists.
Sunday 1st November
Sydney Kings @ Melbourne United (3:00pm)
The way these two teams are playing you simply cannot back the Kings against United.
It could be closer than people think though, if Al Harrington is in town and the Kings get the ball down low to him and Khazzouh. Warrick still won’t suit up for United in this game and just like in the Melbourne v Perth game earlier in this round, there isn’t a whole lot of inside defense behind Majok Majok without Warrick.