The Road Trip From Hell (Preview: 36ers v Wildcats, Tigers 14/2/14 and 16/2/14)

The Sixers tomorrow night play game one of a testing road double that will either see it potentially rocket to the top of the table or open up second spot to one of it's rivals. Two wins would be an outstanding effort, a split would be acceptable. Two losses will have Naptown getting nervous.

Adelaide won't be afraid of taking on Perth in Perth and this is probably the game of the two they most fancy themselves in. A "No Gibbo, No Frye" version of the team took Perth to the limits in Round 1 at Perth Arena and impressed upon the league immediately they'd be no easybeats this year. Gibbo returns but Frye doesn't, replaced by former Sixer Rhys Carter. Frye's starting spot will be gobbled up by Mitch Creek, who should thrive in the role he's coveted for the past two years. With Frye struggling mightily of late you might figure Mitch will be a huge upgrade. The numbers don't quite agree.

                                         PTS    REB    AST     STL     BLK    TO     FLS
Jarrid Frye 15.44 8.22 2.77 1.78 0.49 2.28 4.45
Mitch Creek 22.43 10.22 2.49 1.37 1.12 1.50 4.61

While Creek is a more versatile scorer than Frye, he's not necessarily a noticeable upgrade in many of the other areas of the game. This will be the test. The other issue is with Mitch in the starting five, who will be the "energy" guy off the bench? Carter is a steadying hand but he's unlikely to turn a game like Creek can. Anthony brings hustle but he's already been doing that. Jason Cadee is probably the one who must really elevate his game, despite just returning from his finger injury. Joey Wright will have a challenge on his hands balancing minutes and getting the right groups out on the floor. This a hardly a great weekend to start the experimenting.

Perth will glad to be home, have Matty Knight back in the rotation and get another crack at their most obvious challenge to the title. Ennis had one of his worst games for the year against Adelaide in Adelaide and will be keen to make amends. Trevor Gleeson will have taken note of how Wollongong dismantled Adelaide last Sunday. Expect his team to launch plenty of shots from outside and for them to play some matador perimeter defense at the other end, challenging Adelaide to make them pay.

Adelaide's hopes will rest on another big game from DJ against his former home town team, a standout performance from Creek and for one of Cadee or Schenscher to have a big impact. A bounce back game from Petrie would be handy too, although expect him to be kept busy primarily slowing Redhage or Ennis.

It's a big ask for Adelaide but they'll really be up for this game. I'm expecting a win

Prediction: Adelaide by 3

This game could be anything. The Tigers dominated Adelaide in their last clash in Melbourne, led by star locals Chris Goulding and Mark Worthington. who scored half of the Tigers points. Adelaide's offense was awful, with Peach shooting 5/17, Gibbo 3/12, BJ 1/5 and Cadee and Schensch combining for 0/2 in 20 minutes of play.

Adelaide seems to regularly struggle at the Cage, so the fact this is at Hisense can only be seen as a bonus. I doubt Adelaide will shoot that poorly again and Adelaide will likely utilise a very different game plan this time around.

The Tigers are a better team now than they were back then. The team is more rounded, deeper and less reliant on Chris Goulding. 

Adelaide led for much of the game at Adelaide Arena, holding a 20 point buffer at half-time before a huge second half by the Tigers saw them almost snatch it, going down 90-87. Wortho and Bubbles were huge again, scoring 57% of the Tigers points.

The key to a W will obviously be to stop those two but that's far easier said that done. If Creek gets the task on Goulding, it will likely minimise his output at the other end. Gibbo can stay with Goulding but is undersized once Goulding leaves the ground.  Peach seems the natural matchup for Wortho and will likely get another crack, although Joey does like to play DJ often on the 4 and have Peach guard the 5.

It's a very big ask for Adelaide to fly from Perth to Melbourne and take on a team gunning for second spot. The Sixers will have a good crack but I'm tipping a Tigers win in this one.

My Tip: Melbourne by 8

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