10/10/13

The Heat Is On..........(Preview: Adelaide v Perth 11/10/13)

A week ago, the excitement levels for Adelaide's season-opener against Perth were through the roof. Now? Not so much..........

Not that Adelaide fans aren't still super confident this team finally gives them the playoff contender they've been craving. More so that the team has lost perhaps two of it's most important players for this particular clash.

Adam Gibson, the team captain and most credentialed player, was the first one to pull out due to a hamstring strain. Gibson's versatility and intensity on both ends of the floor with be sorely missed. Latest word is he'll be a game-time decision but I'll err on the side of caution. His absence likely means Jason Cadee will get his starting backcourt spot.

Yesterday, Boti Nagy reported that import Jarrid Frye would also miss the clash due to an ankle injury suffered at training. Frye's injury means Adelaide really only has Mitch Creek as a suitable match up for Perth's dynamic import James Ennis. It will be Creek's first regular season game in over a year and he won't get a chance to ease into it, being asked to defend the highly rated Ennis and be able to get to the basket offensively.

Can Adelaide pull off a win against rival Perth in Perth down two key men? Let's take a deeper look.

LIKELY STARTERS
Adelaide- Ervin, Cadee, Creek, Petrie, Johnson
Perth- Martin,Beal, Ennis, Redhage, Wagstaff

Outside Matt Knight, Perth starts it's ideal first five. Adelaide is down two starters but still fields five who'd start on many teams. Perth certainly gets an edge here though.

BENCH
Adelaide- Schenscher, Anthony, Teys,Sims
Perth- Jervis, Hire, U'u, Vigor, Burdon

Adelaide bench still boasts two quality bigs but has a weakened backcourt with only Teys and development player Sims. Outside Hire, Perth's bench is made up of unproven  yet talented players.

BACKCOURTS
Expect Ervin and Cadee to play extended minutes in this one. Ervin had some struggles against the Wildcats last year and must break the shackles this time. Luckily the refs should help thanks to the new interpretations of the rules. Cadee will likely play the point and look to create open looks and opportunities for G-Money.

Martin and Beal will take turns hounding Ervin and Cadee with some help from Burdon and U'u. Beal in particular will look to be aggressive offensively and try to get one of Adelaide's guards in foul trouble.

FRONTCOURTS
Luckily Adelaide's frontcourt is full strength and should give Perth's bigs, minus Matty Knight, fits. DJ had some huge games against the Cats last year, Petrie will look to build on his great 2012/2013 campaign
and Big Luke has the luxury of coming in and playing a role rather than being a focal point. BJ Anthony gives added flexibility and could be the x-factor in this one.

Redhage and Wagstaff will have their hands full with Adelaide's size and will need Tom Jervis and Michael Vigor to help big time. Adelaide has the weapons to handle Perth on the offensive end and will need to do all it can to get Wagstaff and Jervis in particular in foul trouble.

At the three it will largely be Mitch Creek and perhaps even a little Anthony Petrie against James Ennis and Greg Hire. Creek will need to limit Ennis and "get his" for Adelaide to be any chance. Creek will relish the challenge and this match up should be the highlight of the game. Hire is sneaky good and had that big offensive rebounding game you might recall against Adelaide last year. He must be respected.

COACHES
Both clubs have new bosses and will be learning new systems. Wright takes over a club that has been a cellar dwellar for years, Gleeson takes on the highly successful Wildcats. Wright is expected to lead his club back to the playoffs, Gleeson is expected to keep them there, taking over from the much respected Rob Beveridge. Both coaches were out of the league last year and it will be fascinating to watch how they go with new clubs.

WHO WINS?
If Adelaide is to pull off an upset it will need to go early and often to it's bigs and get a big game out of Ervin.Perth will rely on  Martin to bring his defensive A-game, for Redhage and Wagstaff to do what they do and for Ennis or Beal to prove the difference will a big night out on offense.

Essentially this becomes a scoreboard battle- will Adelaide's front court outscore Perth's imports. It should be a cracking game but because of injuries and the fact Perth is at home I have to go with my head

Prediction- Perth by 3

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