2/27/14

Ummm.........defense? (Preview: 36ers v Hawks 28/2/14)

The last Hawks/Sixers clash is probably still pretty fresh in the memory of all Adelaide fans. You know, it was  that game we gave up 100 points , including fifteen threes to seven different Hawks. The ball movement of Wollongong was as pure as you'd see on a basketball court, while Adelaide's was not. The Sixers only had 10 assists for the game in a dreadful offensive performance. Gibbo top scored with 21 and Johnson battled his way to 19 points. Mitch Creek was probably our best scoring 18 off the bench. It dropped away from there though with  Ervin and Frye combining for 11 points and Peach and Cadee adding 0.

Adelaide's brass responded quickly, sacking Jarrid Frye and replacing him with former Sixer Rhys Carter. The team next fronted up on the road in Perth five days later and put up another stinker that had Sixers fans getting a little nervous. That loss helped the team turn some sort of a corner though, going 2-0 in it's following games against Melbourne and New Zealand. How much it's improved will be on show tomorrow night.

The 36ers drop in form can largely be attributed to it's defense, which has given up 91.8 points on average over the last 8 games. It's offense hasn't been great either, dipping to 87.4 during the same stretch but that was largely hurt by the 61 point game versus Perth. It's given up over 100 points in three of the last eight games.

The key in this game, as it's been in most games, is to stop the bleeding from the perimeter. Wollongong hit 15/36 threes in the last clash as it regularly found open players. In the last 8 games, Adelaide has held opponents to 36% from range in wins but that blows out to 47% in losses. Most players would struggle to hit 47% not being guarded by anyone...which kinda says a lot about Adelaide's perimeter D.

So the keys to a win will be respecting everyone from range and trying to work the Hawks over in transition. The team needs to run hard and often. Ervin must lead from the front and could use some help from JC, who's struggled since moving back to the bench and also injuring his finger. Adelaide has been given some help with Kevin Tiggs missing due to knee surgery. Tiggs has proven a handful for Adelaide in each of their clashes and his absence will be welcomed.

A Hawks win will rely on some hot shooting again and the continued stellar play of Rotnei Clarke, who's playing some great stellar basketball of late. When he's hitting it opens things up for his team mates and most of them aren't timid in launching threes.

The Tiggs absence helps but with the Hawks on a tear and with Adelaide still tinkering with a few things I'm tipping the Hawks again at home but in a much closer battle.

My Tip: Wollongong by 4

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