Thursday 30th November
Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans (7.30pm AEDT)
This is the round for the Kings to get their season back on track – they now have the right pieces and team structure in place, the team has had plenty of time now to work on some chemistry and they now need to win about 13 of their last 17 games to have a good chance of making the post season.
They were much more competitive during the last round of the season, however they were upset by the Hawks and lost to the 36ers but there was enough shown in the first games with the majority of their new team to have the glimmer of hope starting to get a little brighter.
For the Kings this game will be about defense, they have the offensive firepower to outscore the Taipans but can they actually play some defense and stop their opponents streaky shooters so they can gain the win?
Scoochie Smith had his best game of the season during the last round 20 point win against the Hawks and the Cairns fans will be hoping that he has turned the corner on a rather lacklustre season. The Taipans will also need Cam Gliddon to continue his hot shooting and Alex Loughton to keep his throwback season going as well.
The Kings can come away from this round with two wins from two games and their season back on track. Stopping Cam Gliddon and Alex Loughton will ensure that that is the final result. Kings to win.
Friday 1st December
New Zealand Breakers v Perth Wildcats (5.30pm AEDT)
Another matchup between the top two teams in the competition at the moment. These two teams got together two rounds ago where they both had a home game and the Breakers came away with the win in both of those games.
In the previous round NZ got the win over Brisbane, in a game that was closer than many expected while the Wildcats got a big win over Melbourne United (32pts) and a closer game against Brisbane.
The last time these two teams met, as mentioned, the Breakers got the wins both times in that round and it was due to three things – 1) superior ball movement on offense, 2) points in the paint and 3) their three point shooting.
The Breakers still have the edge in the paint and should also have it in the rebounding battle, especially since Matt Knight’s retirement. The Wildcats will need a big game from Lucas Walker and JP Tokoto on the boards to keep this even against the likes of Alex Pledger, Rob Loe and Mika Vukona.
Bryce Cotton and Damien Martin will also have their hands full with DJ Newbill and Edgar Sosa who have really come on in leaps and bounds, further than many thought they would this season.
For the Breakers to win they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing since their one and only loss in Round 1. For the Wildcats to win they’re going to need big games from their stars but also a big effort from their role players in two key areas – rebounding and three point shooting. Breakers to keep the streak going.
Adelaide 36ers v Brisbane Bullets (7.30pm AEDT)
This should be a game that the 36ers pick up a win and we move on BUT the Bullets have been causing teams troubles over recent rounds, losing by only five points to both Perth and New Zealand in the last round.
The 36ers, on paper, simply have far too many weapons (athletic weapons at that) for the Bullets to handle. With players like Mitch Creek, Nathan Sobey, Josh Childress, Matt Hodgson and Daniel Johnson all being factors on the glass and the Bullets not having too many players who enjoy getting their hands dirty rebounding, I’m not giving too much credit to the team from the north in this game.
For the Bullets to have a chance they need to do two things – 1) Play solid defense for 40mins and that includes rebound the ball and 2) Stop transition baskets from the 36ers. I’m not confident in either happening, 36ers to get the win.
Saturday 2nd December
Cairns Taipans v Sydney Kings (5.30pm AEDT)
The second of the Cairns/Sydney matchups for this round, see the above preview and I also see the Kings winning this game as well, even though it is at Cairns.
Sunday 3rd December
Brisbane Bullets v New Zealand Breakers (3pm AEDT)
The last time these two teams played, it was an 8pt win to the Breakers which was closer than most people thought it would have been. This should show the Bullets players and coaches what happens when their players actually defend and rebound the ball – they are in with a chance of winning games. Daniel Kickert finished with 13 rebounds and Perrin Buford had 10 and the Bullets out-rebounded the Breakers 50-38.
Both teams will have already played in this round in what will be physical matchups for them both, so this match will be all about recovery and likely, who can get out to the faster start.
The Breakers hold the edge defensively and on the boards, as do most teams not named the Sydney Kings when it comes to playing against the Bullets. Meanwhile the Bullets have some streaky shooters on their team that if they get hot, can be tough to stop.
The Breakers will need to stop Travis Trice and ensure that Daniel Kickert is limited offensively, they should be able to do that and get the win again.
Monday 4th December
Melbourne United v Illawarra Hawks (7.30pm AEDT)
The first Monday night game of the season I believe and it’s between two teams who have not yet met this season.
In the last round both teams suffered big defeats, the most surprising was the 32pt loss by Melbourne to Perth. Before that Melbourne had beaten Sydney but a day or two before that win, they lost by 23pts to the Taipans. The Hawks suffered a 21pt loss to Cairns last round but before that loss had been on a four game win streak.
A key matchup will be AJ Ogilvy v Josh Boone and which big man will stay out of foul trouble more than the other. The other tantalising matchups on the court involve Chris Goulding v Rotnei Clarke in a battle of the scorers and Casper Ware against the defense of Mitch Norton.
United have more weapons offensively but the X-factor for the Hawks will be Demetrius Conger who will do a bit of everything for the Hawks. They will need him to do a bit of everything a whole lot though if they want to knock off a Melbourne team who has had close to two weeks to review their shock loss to the Wildcats and put their heads down and work.
If United can all get on the same page and figure out how to share the ball, they will prove too good for the Hawks. On the flip side, the Hawks are one of the better teams at sharing the ball and are only let down by a lack of offensive options at times during a game.
Being at Hisense Arena, I’m going Melbourne purely because it is there home game but would not be surprised to see the Hawks get the upset win.
Tips for Round 8:
SYDNEY v Cairns
NEW ZEALAND v Perth
ADELAIDE v Brisbane
Cairns v SYDNEY
Brisbane v NEW ZEALAND
MELBOURNE v Illawarra