Once bitten.....(Preview: 36ers v Crocs 15/12/12)
Despite sitting at 5-6 after 11 games, Adelaide finds itself boasting three NBL all-stars. Daniel Johnson starts, coming in for the injured Matt Knight. Adam Gibson comes off the bench as probably the league's form local guard (recognising Madgen as a forward) and Anthony Petrie joins him as perhaps the league's best 6th man (yes, I'm aware Petrie probably got the nod due to the fact the game is being played). Adelaide somehow though is starting to lose ground in the hunt for a playoff berth. After tonight, Adelaide plays 7 of it's last 16 at home. If they win tonight, they'll still need to pull off probably at least 8 wins from those 16 games to have a serious shot at finals action. Here's a quick look at what's ahead after tonight.
7 home games, 9 road games
4 against top 4 teams (2 vs New Zealand, Sydney, Wollongong)
3 against bottom 4 teams (Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne)
5 against top 4 teams (2 vs Wollongong, Perth, New Zealand, Sydney)
4 against bottom 4 teams (2 vs Cairns, Melbourne, Townsville)
It's pretty hard to get a handle on this team but I'd pencil in no more than 7 wins on current form. At home we'd hope to beat Melbourne and win one against Townsville or Cairns and one against Sydney or Wollongong. On the road we'd hope to get a win against Perth or Sydney, 2 out of 3 against Townsville and Cairns and another against Melbourne. Some might see that as pessimistic, some optimistic. Remember though we lost by 30 to Melbourne over there last time and lost to Townsville at the Swamp too. All indicators point to another season out of the playoffs and for some serious change in 2013. Having a team with 3 all-stars, a former NBA player and two very highly rated juniors shouldn't be missing the playoffs. Lose tomorrow and they can all but say goodbye to playoff hopes.
Townsville won the last game thanks largely to the form of Gary Ervin, who Adelaide had no answers for (read the game review here ). Besides Ervin, you'd say only Jacob Holmes had any meaningful impact. Adelaide certainly did itself the most harm, getting little out of DJ,Schensch and Petrie (23 points combined). Cadee and Gibson both had solid games and will need to play even better tomorrow (assuming Gibson does play, currently under a cloud with a hip injury). If Gibson does miss I'm trusting Marty starts Mitch. I'd love to see a Cadee/Creek back court and to see them get out, run and have some fun. Adelaide's bench gave little last time and is now even weaker with the departure of Massingale. If Gibson misses it's extremely thin. The one positive is that Cadee and Petrie suffered varying degrees of illness on that last weekend and should be fully fit this time around.
To win, Adelaide needs big games out of it's two best players in Gibson and Johnson and for some bench impact from Petrie and Creek. On defense we must curtail Ervin's impact by keeping the ball out of his hands and not letting him get to the line. Gibson and Creek should spend the majority of the game making his life difficult. Man, we really need Gibson to play.
I've pretty much convinced myself we can win this one if we pull off the above....and Gibson plays. If you don't normally attend games, make sure you get down to this one. It's Adelaide's best chance for a decent home win in a while and it's a rare Saturday night game. The club desperately needs this win and a full house in loud voice will make a difference. A win and some fun at a 36ers game are well overdue.
My Tip: Adelaide by 8