Guest Blog- Paul Henderson, Hoop Diary

With the 36ers facing Melbourne this week, I thought I'd sound out Paul Henderson from Hoop Diary. Paul is a big Tigers fan and is getting a little excited about his team's late race for a playoffs spot. So here's Paul's thought's on Sunday's matchup and the Tiger's hope for some playoffs action.

The Melbourne Tigers host the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday afternoon in the second game of their Round 17 double-header weekend. Melbourne are closely eyeing a top four spot on the ladder as Wollongong stumble due mainly to key injuries. Every game is so important right now for all NBL teams with the race for the playoffs intensifying, however it's the Tigers who have the most to immediately gain with a solid weekend of play.

Melbourne face the Taipans in Cairns on Friday night before heading back to the Cage on Sunday to face Adelaide. With two wins (and a Wollongong home loss to NZ) the Tigers could find themselves in the playoff bracket by the end of the weekend.

While this all sounds like an amazing prospect for Melbourne fans who have endured a tough start to the current campaign, their heroes will need to fire on all cylinders to take advantage of this opportunity. Rebounding is everything for the Tigers, as their biggest Achilles heel last weekend was allowing Perth to dominate their offensive glass. With a sub-par effort against both Cairns and Adelaide this weekend, Melbourne will be right back in the cellar and pondering lost opportunity.

The key advantage Melbourne have right now in the race for the playoffs is that they have played less games than the rest of the competition at 15 games. Other teams fighting for that elusive fourth place including Townsville and Wollongong for example have played 17, while Sunday combatants Adelaide have racked up 18 games. This weekend is potentially a season-defining double for the Tigers and they'll need to be ready.
Assuming good fortunes come Melbourne's way on Friday night in Far North Queensland, let's take a look at some key players for Sunday's game.

In their last meeting on November 9, Melbourne cruised to a 96-66 victory at Hisense Arena behind the stellar play of Chris Goulding, Seth Scott and Jonny Flynn. These three combined for 54 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in this contest and it was a dominant performance right from the start. It's safe to assume the Tigers will need another big game from at least two of these guys to get the job done.

For Adelaide, quiet games for both Adam Gibson and Luke Schenscher back in November were arguably the main issues facing the Sixers on that night. Combining for just 10 points on 4/20 shooting really put them in a hole they couldn't recover from. Both players will be looking for a better performance this time around.
A lot has changed for both teams since their last meeting but one thing has remained the same, it's still a must-win situation and as the playoff race heats up there is less and less room for error.

Good luck to both sides, however I'm hoping for a Melbourne win.

Twitter - @HD_Paul or @hoopdiary

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