Thursday 16th November
Illawarra Hawks v Sydney Kings (7.30pm AEDT)
Well here we go, the Kings will have both new imports suited up and ready to go in this game against the Hawks and really they should be in the starting lineup.
As mentioned in last weeks preview when Jeremy Tyler was making his debut, he forces the Kings team to set up in a more traditional format – a centre, power forward, small forward, shooting guard and point guard in their natural positions. No more Todd Blanchfield at the power forward spot or Perry Ellis at the centre position where they are both very undersized. Last week Tyler came off the bench and got fouled out in 10mins of play, however that happens to just about every import in their first game or two as they adjust to the referee style in the NBL. In that 10mins he finished with eight points, four rebounds (three of them offensive rebounds) and one steal, so there is no doubt that he will be an asset to this team.
Jerome Randle will start instantly and he won’t have the teething troubles that Tyler will have, after all he is the reigning MVP of this league. His move onto the team will send Jason Cadee back to the bench in a role he is more suited to where he can come in and torch opposing teams second units.
The Hawks last round took on the Adelaide 36ers and a 33-15 final period saw them come over the top of them on the 36ers home court. The win was set up by Rotnei Clarke and Demetrius Conger who both scored over 20pts. However it was Conger who was the main force out of the two, finishing the game with 26pts, 10rbds, 6asts and 2stls. AJ Ogilvy also found some of his lost form going for 13pts, 9rbds, 3asts and 3blks.
The Hawks will need those three players to fire against the Kings because with the new imports in that side, the Kings instantly become better and instantly match up better with opposing teams. The bench players for the Hawks will also need to come in and be on song from the second the step on the court. The Kings bench is still questionable so the Hawks will need to play well while their starters are on the pine.
Having said all of what the Hawks will need to do, the Kings will win with their new look team.
Friday 17th November
Brisbane Bullets v Perth Wildcats (7.30pm AEDT)
The Wildcats lost both games against the New Zealand Breakers during Round 6, one away and one at home. That home loss will hurt more than the away one but a loss is still a loss. The Bullets got a tight win over the Cairns Taipans on their home court and will try to take that momentum into this game and cause an upset.
The Wildcats have looked “off” on the offensive end over the past few games. Sure Bryce Cotton and JP Tokoto have scored well, particularly in the game against the Breakers at home but after those two the offense drops away considerably. This is a game where they can find their mojo once again, against a Bullets team that isn’t well known for their defense. Someone needs to step up and be that third option because Cotton or Tokoto can have an off night any day of the week. Their defense is still one of the best in the league but their offense is lacking.
The Bullets are the opposite, they have a number of offensive weapons and few defensive options. Those weapons didn’t fire too much against the Taipans last round and they still came away with the win – Travis Trice 17pts, Perrin Buford 11pts, Daniel Kickert 9pts and Stephen Holt 7pts. The reason for their win against the Taipans, the free throw line was their friend. The Bullets got to the line for 32 shots, hitting only 22 of them but when the Taipans only got their 12 times and hit nine of their shots, it’s more than enough of a difference in a tightly contested game.
The Bullets will need all the help they can get from fouls and the free throw line against the Wildcats. Their defense and their rebounding is not on par with this Perth team that will be fuming after losing both of their games last week and those two sub-par skills will be clearly shown in this game. Perth to win.
Saturday 18th November
Adelaide 36ers v Sydney Kings (5.30pm AEDT)
The 36ers are not playing well at the moment, they’ve lost their last three games including the one against the Hawks during Round 6. They meet a Kings team who should be flying after a win earlier in the round against those same Hawks.
Having said that, the 36ers should pounce upon this opportunity to beat the Kings with their new imports. Playing a second game in the Round could see the Kings new imports struggling with their recovery and being able to bounce back for a game two days later.
The 36ers still haven’t found out the right way of integrating Josh Childress into their system and they are suffering for it. When he was in Sydney he was able to control the game and, when he wasn’t injured and was actually on the court, he was one of the best players to be in the league in recent memory. For the 36ers to resurrect their season, after the last couple of rounds without a win, they need to use him better and make sure players like Daniel Johnson and Mitch Creek get off to quick starts.
The Kings imports could struggle with their game fitness after playing a game earlier in this round whereas the 36ers won’t want to lose yet another game at home for the third straight round. Adelaide to get the win at home with Sydney’s Jeremy Tyler to be huffing and puffing early.
Illawarra Hawks v Cairns Taipans (7.30pm AEDT)
The Hawks will get their second home game for the round against the Taipans who will be reeling from the loss of import Michael Carrera for four-six weeks.
These two teams haven’t played each other since Round 1 where the Taipans got a one point win thanks to a throwback performance by Alex Loughton. The Taipans were lucky to get the win the last time they played and I don’t think they will get lucky a second time.
Rotnei Clarke and Demetrius Conger are in scintillating form at the moment and AJ Ogilvy had, probably, his best game of the season back in Round 1 against these Taipans.
With Carrera out, who has been the X-factor over the last few rounds and their number one option on the court, the Taipans will struggle to put up a winning score. His effort and intensity on the defensive end of the court will also be missed, even though the Taipans will still be a good defensive team, Carrera brought a toughness to it.
Clarke, Conger and Ogilvy to go to town in this game for a Hawks win.
Sunday 19th November
New Zealand Breakers v Brisbane Bullets (1pm AEDT)
The Breakers are the form team of the competition at the moment and against the traveling Bullets you have to back them in to get across the line in this one.
The Bullets will have played a tough, physical game earlier this round against the Perth Wildcats and now have to travel across the Tasman to take on the Breakers, in what will also be a tough game.
These teams last met in Round 4 where the Breakers came away with a five point win in Brisbane. In that game the Bullets actually won most of the statistical categories including rebounds and points in the paint which came as a huge surprise.
The Bullets don’t have the strength inside the paint, or in post, to contain the Breakers (the last game between these two should be considered an outlier) – who will throw Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger and Rob Loe the ball continously early in the game. Daniel Kickert isn’t much defensively and once Tom Jervis gets into foul trouble, which is highly likely in this game, the options for the Bullets against the Breaker bigs becomes severely limited.
For the Bullets to have a chance, Stephen Holt, Travis Trice and Daniel Kickert need to be lights out from three. However, New Zealand to get the win.
Melbourne United v Perth Wildcats (3pm AEDT)
These two teams faced off in Round 3 with the Wildcats getting a five point win over United in Perth and it was the free throw line that helped Perth get that win.
They went to the line 30 times to Melbourne’s 18 and that has been a weakness in the United gameplan so far this season – getting to the free throw line. JP Tokoto also had a fairly quiet game the last time these two teams played and he’s coming off 30pts in the last round in one of the losses to the Breakers.
The game comes down to the Perth defense, if they can contain Casper Ware, Chris Goulding and Casey Prather (who will want to have a big game in the stadium where he plied his trade for the past couple of seasons) and then keep league leading rebounder, Josh Boone, away from the glass – you can put them down for a win.
If Melbourne hits their shots and keeps JP Tokoto occupied and in foul trouble – you can put them down for a win.
Perth to get the win in Melbourne.
Tips for Round 7:
Illawarra v SYDNEY
Brisbane v PERTH
ADELAIDE v Sydney
ILLAWARRA v Cairns
NEW ZEALAND v Brisbane
Melbourne v PERTH