Adelaide has had a history of losing the unloseable, especially recently (see "Ben Madgen Game, The" or "Game Where We Led New Zealand By 20 And Lost, The" for some recent examples). I can't put my finger on it but 36ers teams have had a history of losing games it really shouldn't. So when a team comes in basically fielding half an ABL roster, you'll know why I'm not heading down to Centrebet to place a few dollars on Adelaide.
These teams have only faced off once this year, in a depressing game in which Adelaide ran up a huge first quarter lead....and then proceeded to play three quarters of unwatchable basketball. You can relive it in my preview here if you're that way inclined. Led by a smoking Adam Gibson, Adelaide jumped out to an early lead and Marty Clarke was so confident the game was over he even brought in Pero late in the first quarter. It didn't end well.
The injuries, in theory, should help Adelaide. In that game only two Hawks scored in double figures. Adris Deleon (23pts) was huge down the stretch and Lance Hurdle (16pts) was also important. The only other key contributors were Gruber and Davidson, who outworked their opponents on the glass. Look for Deleon to try to win this one off his own hand, knowing the Hawks need 25 from him to have a serious chance. He'll also be licking his lips at the chance to square off against former backcourt buddies Adam Gibson and Jason Cadee.
Adelaide will again rely heavily on Gibson and Johnson to do the bulk of the scoring. It will also need another typical Anthony Petrie game and for one of our other guards to step up. Cadee will be keen to backup strongly from his breakout game last week and he should be encouraged to attack Delon hard. If he can get him in early foul trouble it will help Adelaide greatly. Christopherson and Daly must take whatever chances they are given against Wollongong's bench guards.
If ever there was a "heart vs talent" game this is it. Wollongong is still fielding a strong starting unit but has a largely unproven bench. Adelaide's starters must get the 36ers off to another strong start and maintain any lead they can build. It must respect guys like Macmillan and Coenraad. Anything less than 4th quarter performance will not get the job done.
I'm going to go with heart on this one and tip Adelaide. It's a dangerous thing to underestimate any Gordie McLeod team but I just think Adelaide has too many factors in it's favour in this matchup.
After this game there are still two games to come in the Hawks-36ers series, both in Wollongong. A win tomorrow is doubly important to both teams in the rare chance they'll be fighting it out for the 4th spot.
My Tip: Adelaide by 5