Preview: 36ers v Blaze (17/3/12)

Tonight Adelaide takes on Gold Coast in their final home game of the year. We played Gold Coast here last in late November and went down in a bad loss (read the review here). Besides Ng, none of our guards gave a whimper. DJ and DS had solid games but you can't beat the Gold Coast with that many contributors. Considering last time we had Crosswell and Balls and still lost, it's obvious we'll need a mighty effort. Here's how I think we'll win.

Gold Coast's backcourt is one of the best in the league, with Adam Gibson (NBL's best Aussie guard?) pairing up with an import with the nickname "2Hard2Guard" (Adris Deleon). You don't get a nickname like that if you aren't a handful. Backing them up is pass-first PG Jason Cadee (who I'd like us to recruit for next season). Last time, Cadee racked up 6 assists in his 11 minutes and Deleon was the difference with 23pts, including a dominant last quarter. Luckily Gibbo had a poor night but he's in much better form now than in 2011. Also spending some time in the backcourt is Chris Goulding, a versatile swingman who can wreak havoc inside and out. Missing form the last game will be veteran James Harvey.

On paper, Adelaide should match up well. Warren is most effective against smaller guards and should be mainly guarded by Deleon. In the last home game for the year, Warren must put in a good showing. Of his five, 20 point games, only one was here (v Sydney) and if he wants to return to Adelaide next year he must put in a big game tonight. Bartlett has been a big help to the team as a starter and must look to get Warren and Ng lots of open shots while also keeping the bigs happy. Must keep Gibson active and also look to penetrate hard.

Ng scored 20 against the Blaze last time here and there's no reason he can't do the same tonight. He hit 8-13 last time with Gold Coast not picking him up early enough in transition. Gold Coast's backcourt is also not too physical and Ng's eyes should light up when he sees Cadee or Deleon on him especially. Crosswell is missing but had a shocker last time out.

Creek and Herbert will likely get minutes if Gibson or Goulding gets going. Daly unlikely to get much burn tonight.

Mark Worthington always gives us trouble and is coming off some rarely seen public criticism from his coach. He did little the other night against NZ and will be glad to be entering Adelaide Arena tonight. His sidekicks in Hoare, Petrie, Hudson and Garlepp are all hard workers and will try to workover Adelaide's bigs at both ends. None of these bigs hit double figures in the last game here but none can be underestimated.

Obviously our two key bigs are DJ and DS and both will present problems for Gold Coast. The Blaze have plenty of big bodies though and will have fouls to use. On offense they should get plenty of looks. They both must be sensible though with their fouls on the other end. Big Wade will likely also see a few minutes tonight and will also be keen to make a good contribution with his future here in question.

I'm expecting a good showing tonight from Adelaide and think the key to a win will be the ability of Warren and Ng to light it up while containing Deleon. Gold Coast's backcourt is undermanned and that's where their weakness lies. New Zealand's guards hit 15/25 against them Thursday, the Blaze guards hitting 11/35. If Ng, Bartlett and Warren can contribute 40pts at a good clip, I say we win. Conversely, if Wortho and Goulding get going and the other bigs outrebound us they'll win comfortably.

This is a really hard one to pick, but if I add the travel factor, Adelaide's home court advantage and Gold Coast missing Harvey something tells me to pick Adelaide in an upset. Adelaide by 5.

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