The Ultimate Test (Preview: 36ers v Breakers 28/2/13)
The Sixers have been in some good from of late, taking down both Cairns and Wollongong on the road. Both teams though have had their struggles, with Cairns suffering a big slump from last year and Wollongong dealing with one of the worst injury runs in recent memory. Beat New Zealand in New Zealand and the league will stand up and take notice. It probably also means that their ridiculous playoff dream is really alive.
It can't be argued that the 36ers have had a better "flow" since Petrie has started the last two games for the injured Luke Schenscher. Jai Bednall covered the lineup change with Marty Clarke in today's "Advertiser", with Clarke seemingly admitting the team is now putting up shots earlier and is less predictable without the big centre. It also gives the starting lineup five guys who can all shoot the three. That's tough to defend. Schenscher had one huge game against New Zealand (25 points, 16 boards), sandwiched in between two horrible performances against the Breakers. Petrie struggled in Luke's big game but was solid in the other two games and should benefit from the extra minutes.
So who wins?
One part of me thinks that the sheer nature of Adelaide's recent wins will have it confident and coming to New Zealand willing to leave it all out on the floor. In it's last two wins, Adelaide gave up big leads but stormed home, clinching both games on the back of huge 4th quarter shooting. A Marty Clarke coached 36ers has never beaten the Breakers and this is likely his last (and perhaps best) chance to break that record. On the other hand New Zealand is 20-3.
As much as I want the Adelaide win (especially as I'll be there), I just can't tip against one of the best dynasties the league has seen. 20-3 teams don't slip up at home against 8-16 teams.
My Tip: New Zealand by 4