NBL 2013/14: Grand Final Preview - Perth Wildcats vs. Adelaide 36ers

It's taken 23 rounds, two semi-final clashes but the Grand Final has finally arrived. The best two teams in the competition have rightfully reserved their place in the big dance, now it's time to see who takes home the NBL Championship.

Photo Credit: NBL


Game Fixtures

Game 1: Monday 7th April 2014, Perth Arena - 7:30pm local time For tickets, click here.

Game 2: Friday 11th April 2014, Adelaide Arena - 7:00pm local time For tickets, click here.

Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday 13th April 2014, Perth Arena - TBC For tickets, click here.


Previous Results

R1: Perth Wildcats def Adelaide 36ers 83-80 @ Perth Arena

R7: Adelaide 36ers def Perth Wildcats 91-86 @ Adelaide Arena

R18: Perth Wildcats def Adelaide 36ers 85-61 @ Perth Arena

R22: Adelaide 36ers def Perth Wildcats 102-79 @ Adelaide Arena


Road to the Final

The Wildcats have been the best team all season led by none other than All-NBL first team starter James Ennis, who has taken the league by storm. After sweeping the Wollongong Hawks in a convincing Semi-Final series win, the 'Cats are determined to build on their minor premiership and go one better than they have in the past couple of seasons.

Adelaide, on the other hand, have sat in second place for the majority of the season. While Gary Ervin was their bright spark early on, it has been the consistency of Daniel Johnson which has led them from the wooden spoon to a Grand Final in the space of 12 months. After beating Perth twice this season, the Sixers will believe they can cause an upset and take home the title.


Key Matchups

Damian Martin vs Gary Ervin

Martin, recently named Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth straight time, has caused plenty of trouble for Ervin in the past. With Martin's prowess not only on the defensive end, his ability to knock down crucial threes will have to be in the back of Ervin's mind, meaning the Sixers guard will need to carefully guard the perimeter. If Ervin can break the shackles, it will certainly give his side the extra advantage they need to go up early in the series.

James Ennis vs Brendan Teys

Ennis has been the most damaging player in the league and it's not close. Teys has an enormous job ahead of him this week if Adelaide are to contain the possible NBA-bound star, who has the ability to change a game in the space of minutes. Teys, who has found himself starting in the latter half of the season, has been improving ever since he found an increase in minutes and played a crucial role in the Sixers' series win over Melbourne.

Matt Knight vs Daniel Johnson

Two of the genuine superstar big men in the league go head to head in a match-up that will go a long way to decide the winner of the series. Johnson has been in MVP form over the second half of the season and was rewarded with an All NBL First Team Selection in the past week, while Knight may have finally put an injury-interrupted start to the season behind him and is looking like the weapon we have all come to recognise over the past few seasons.


X-Factor

Jesse Wagstaff (Perth)

Wagstaff has been instrumental off the bench for the Wildcats, especially when Shawn Redhage has struggled on the offensive end at times throughout the season. His ability to step up in the clutch, when games have been on the line for his side, has been crucial in Perth securing the top seed. His outside shooting is as good as anyone on the Wildcats roster, while his athleticism enables him to play both ends of the floor.

Luke Schenscher (Adelaide)

Starting the season slowly, Schenscher has been able to regain his confidence, along with his unique ability to change games with his energy coming off the bench. He looks to be over his niggling injuries that set him back early on and has been able to form a dangerous partnership with Daniel Johnson, which is extremely difficult to contain for many rosters.


Verdict

This series should go down to the wire, which is what all NBL fans want to see. With both teams having plenty of big guns, it's the best possible outcome for the league to show the stars on the big stage. Perth have been dominant all season, while Adelaide have been able to blow quality teams away at times, as Melbourne found out in the Semi-Finals.

With Perth hosting two games at home, they hold a slight advantage which they rightfully earned throughout the season. The Sixers have a big job ahead of them if they are to steal a game inside the hostile environments of Perth Arena. The 'Cats have been the best side all season, and after two straight seasons of being the bridesmaids, will not want to let another title opportunity slip.

Perth to win the NBL Championship 2-1.