There's a lot of positivity around the 36ers this week, highlighted by the confidence that they can grab a win tonight against the stumbling Melbourne Tigers.
After several weeks of unprecedented anger from fans, the club has finally reacted, sending a letter to members outlining their support for the coach, their discontent with the win-loss column and some short-term solutions. Management has brought in coaches from basketball and other sports to consult and support the coaching staff and former great players to mentor and inspire the playing group. This is all good stuff. The letter reiterated the club isn't happy with the results, and all areas of the club will be reviewed at the end of the season. Now back to tonight......
Adelaide has shown some grit on the road, beating Perth twice and downing Sydney in the last of their 4 battles this year. Some players and teams respond better when they get to "hit the road" and focus solely on their basketball and that appears to be the case for Adelaide this year. Melbourne hasn't been a happy hunting ground though and tonight will be a challenge. Melbourne fans are also unhappy and the Tigers are under the pump just as much as Adelaide. Here's the key areas the 36ers need to come out in front in if they are to pull off their first win of 2012.
Warren & Creek v Allen & Dorsey
Both backcourts have changed since their last meeting with Adelaide replacing Crosswell with Creek and Melbourne swapping Ubaka for Allen. Plus that Patty Mills guy is gone. On paper the advantage is still with the Tigers. Allen has impressed in his first 2 games and could explode tonight in his first home game, especially if mainly guarded by the smaller Warren. Creek can lock down on Dorsey but as he generally only plays 20 or so minutes. How Herbert and Ng handle him will be more critical.
Johnson & Simpson vs Tragardh/Rush and Burston
Johnson had a stinker last time while Simpson was solid. Burston missed the last game and could be key as he's a perfect matchup for Johnson. Rush has worked himself into the lineup and become a key contributor, top scoring for the Tigers last week in Wollongong. Tragardh is one of the league leaders in scoring and rebounding and provides a tricky matchup for Adelaide. Johnson and Simpson must get lots of looks and try to get one or more of their bigs in foul trouble. Rush and Tragardh are likely to draw DJ and DS outside where they are less comfortable.
Weigh was our best player last time around in arguably his best game for the year. He'll be hard pushed to match that performance. Ballinger and Crosswell are missing, replaced only by Everard Bartlett. Ballinger did little in that game but Crosswell was influential, dishing out 9 assists. That's a lot of output to find. Melbourne gets Burston back but have lost Patty Mills, who scored 32points to go with his 3 assists in his last game for them.
Prediction: I've been at and watched some tough losses at The Cage, even in the post-Gaze era and I'm rarely confident about our chances playing over there. I do expect a good showing by the team but the venue and Myron Allen has me apprehensive. Melbourne by 6.
*For one of the few times this year we'll get to watch a 36ers road game on ONE. I'll be watching and doing facebook updates during the game on www.facebook.com/36reasons and on the game thread on hoops.com.au