If you'd have asked Adelaide fans yesterday morning to rate their chances against the Taipans, I'm sure their responses would have ranged from somewhere between "easy win" and "this will be the most lopsided result 36ers win in history". What a difference a night makes.
Sydney certainly isn't considered a title threat this year but their respect in the hoops community certainly lifted after last week's win against Melbourne. The Tigers are also not expected to make the finals but the performances of Corin Henry and Darnell Lazare made NBL fans stand up and take notice. Henry earned POTW status for his 23points, 4 boards and 5 assists while Lazare put in a monster 23 and 13 game. In the NBL the general rule of thumb is you'll be a contender if you have 2 star imports and another 2 solid locals with some role players. If Sydney's imports can play at that level consistently they will trouble all comers this season. If not..... you'll get performances like last night.
Cairns looked a completely different team last night to the one that turned up the week before. Their defense was back and they kept the scoreboard ticking over. Henry and Lazare were both held to 4 points, were plagued by foul trouble and had minimal impact on the game. Jamar Wilson shone with 22pts, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, returning to his 2011-2012 form. Of most concern to Adelaide though will be that Edwards, Hill and Tragardh all scored 14 and Alex Loughton added 13. That's a well-rounded offense to say the least. So how can Adelaide win?
1/ Stop Jamar
Jamar had his way with Adelaide at times last year but a lot of that was due to the fact he was being guarded by the smaller Chris Warren. Cadee will likely get first crack but if Wilson starts to dominate the task will likely move to the more physical Adam Gibson. Wilson must not be allowed to control the tempo.
2/ Get something, anything, from Luke or CJ
Cairns has the bodies to throw at Schenscher and Big Luke simply must get down and dirty tonight. He'll have the home crowd behind him and surely must be fired up for this one. At the very least he needs to impose himself on the defensive end and score some easy baskets inside. CJ needs some home-court minutes and Cadee and Gibson must look to get him going early.
3/ Score lots
Cairns tries to slow the game down and choke up the game on the defensive end. Adelaide must not let that happen otherwise it will be a long night. Cadee needs to stamp himself on this game by continually pushing the ball up court and looking for transition points. I'd like to see plenty of Creek and CJ tonight and for them to be aggressive. If we can execute this it would be good to see lots good stretches of lineups such as...
This game could be anything and I don't underestimate the Taipans in any way but if I put together the fact Adelaide will be desperate for a win and that Cairns is backing up after a game last night I have to go with Adelaide. If Adelaide lose the fans will start to get restless. If they win the NZ loss will be seen as an understandable loss and all will be well in Adelaide (for another week at least).
Prediction: Adelaide by 5