Adelaide has hovered around the foot of the ladder for the last two years while Perth has been a grand final contender and, as always, a perennial winner. Perth has managed a few big wins over Adelaide in that period but in between them have been some stunning Adelaide victories. So how has Adelaide pulled them off? Have they had some "help"?
I'm not for a moment suggesting the Sixers have juiced or Marty Clarke has taken "special coaching tablets" or that Perth have used these games to place a few bets to help fund the new stadium- but it is all a bit odd. Perth is a veteran team who should handle teams like the recent version of the Adelaide 36ers with ease. Generally though it has been a struggle for them. Here's some of the reasons why......
-Beating the press. Adelaide got mauled by Perth's backcourt pressure in the opener last season but learned quickly. Instead of getting it's guards to try to beat the press, it used quick long ball movement. This often resulted in quick baskets, especially when they managed to get it to DJ long.
-Coaching. Seriously. Adelaide has an intimate knowledge of Perth's system and in it's own way has tried to model it's team on them (except for having a MVP import, defensive focus etc). Explosive guards and bigs who stretch the floor can bother Perth. Massingale and Cadee have put in key performances against the Cats this season, while DJ has been excellent in each game this season, averaging 20.3 points and 8.3 boards. Clarke and Radford have developed good plans on both ends of the floor against Perth and the team has executed generally very well.
A win tomorrow for Adelaide will be considerably more difficult when you consider.....
-There's no CJ anymore, our best import of the year so far who pretty much won us the first matchup. In his place is Scott Christopherson, who's averaging 0pts, 0 ast and 0.5 to on the road. And he's yet to play in Perth, not known for it's "visitor friendly" environment.
-No Mitch Creek, who also had been an important contributor against Perth. His minutes will largely go to Tom Daly, who has only got on court once this year against Perth (for under 2 minutes).
-Anthony Petrie is hampered by a bad back reminiscent of the 1992 Olympics Larry Bird.
And what was the other thing?.....
Oh that's right, the team is in it's worst ever slump and is playing with no chance of making the playoffs. Confidence is low and you sense many players will be happy to see the season end and see what the club has in store for the next era of the club.
So yes, it is a tough ask but there's a glimmer of hope that the coaches and players will fire up for this one, knowing the success they've enjoyed against the Wildcats and they have nothing to lose. Stranger things have happened (like Lance Armstrong winning the "Tour De France" seven times) but I can't see Adelaide winning this time around. If it does, the ACC needs to get to Perth Arena right after the game.
My Tip: Perth by 14
*All jokes are made in fun and I do not believe in anyway the league or the clubs have any involvement in today's shocking news. Just so we're clear! The ACC findings are extremely troubling but hardly a major shock when you consider the amount of money involved in sports today. The whole betting process needs a serious review and it will take a brave government to bring in drastic changes to the type of bets permissible and the amounts allowed to be wagered. Drug testing also will need a huge overhaul and the penalties must be raised for players caught "doping".