Happy With A Split? (Preview: 36ers v Tigers)

Normally coming up with a split on a double-header road trip is a fair result. If Adelaide loses tomorrow it won't be season-altering but it will put a halt to people stamping them as playoff certainties just yet. If they win it will mean they've started the season 1-0 at home and 2-1 on the road, only losing to the league-leading Perth. That loss was well and truly an "honourable" one, down two of it's stars and playing the hottest team in the land.

Melbourne is without a win for the season after two disappointing losses to Sydney and Perth. They were in both games and will be super-keen to get this win. The Tigers' season got ripped apart before it even began when Tommy Greer and import Stephen Dennis suffered serious injuries in training. Dennis had to be let go and was replaced by former Tiger Ayinde Ubaka. Let's just say he's struggled so far. The team is also working Chris Goulding back into the lineup and should be in a better place for this game.

The game will likely be decided by two things- who wins the frontcourt battle and which bench gives the most help.

Melbourne: Morrison, Worthington, Walker, Ballinger, Ogidie,MacMillan
Adelaide: Johnson, Petrie, Schenscher, Anthony, Frye, Creek

On paper, Adelaide's frontcourt looks a lot stronger.

Frye and Creek have been excellent in each game they've played. Anthony has been an important contributor, especially spelling Peach. Petrie has been below his form of last year but was big in Friday night's win. DJ started the season hot and has subsequently been heavily defended in his last two outings. Schenscher has been vital in two of his three games.

Worthington has been one of Melbourne's best in both games so far. Morrison and Walker have had moments. Ballinger has been scoring but providing little else. Ogidie and MacMillan have barely featured. The Tigers are averaging just 70 a game this year and will need good games from Walker and Morrison and some energy from MacMillan to take this one.

Adelaide's bench is deep and multi-faceted. Melbourne's is not. It will rely heavily on Ballinger and Ubaka to score in this one as it has only got 4 pts from other players so far this year. Creek has been one of Adelaide's best so far this year. BJ and Schenscher have  both had key stretches in games. Cadee provides key rest and has looked a little steadier on offense this year.

Before the round I have actually pencilled Melbourne in for this one. After seeing Adelaide's performance Friday I have to change my pick. It wasn't that Adelaide won (I'd tipped this) but it's purely because in each game they've shown they have the versatility and desire to get back into games no matter the situation and have a coach who knows how to flick the right switches. I just figure that Petrie and Anthony should be able to slow Worthington and Goulding will be hounded all game by either Gibbo, Frye or Creek. Have fun with that Bubbles. Despite injuring his ankle it is likely Frye will play although hopefully he'll only be used when needed.

In the end Adelaide's wider array of options, it's deeper bench and it's recent form down the stretch suggests another win is on the cards.

My Tip: Adelaide by 8

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