NBL 2013/14: Semi Final Preview - Adelaide 36ers vs. Melbourne Tigers

The 36ers and the Tigers will battle it out in a bid to make it to the NBL grand final for 2014 in a 2v3 semi-final clash.

Adelaide has gone from last to second on the back of Joey Wright’s arrival on the sidelines and Gary Ervin’s arrival on court. The Sixers won more than double the amount of games they won last season and are now warm favourites to take the best-of-three series against Melbourne, with two games to be played in Adelaide.

Melbourne return to the playoffs after a hiatus of over five years, with the continued improvement of gun shooter Chris Goulding, who was named the winner of the NBL’s scoring title this week, and the impact of the returning Mark Worthington from overseas. Despite losing two imports over the course of the season, the Tigers now look settled and ready to compete for a spot in the big dance.

Photo Credit: The Pick and Roll


Game Dates:

Game 1 Thursday, March 27th, 7:00pm (local time) @ Adelaide Arena - Tickets: click here Game 2 Sunday, March 30th, 1:00pm (local time) @ Hisense Arena - Tickets: click here Game 3 Tuesday, April 1st, 7:00pm (local time) @ Adelaide Arena - Tickets: click here


Previous Meetings:

R3 Melbourne def. Adelaide 93-79 @ State Netball and Hockey Centre R5 Adelaide def. Melbourne 90-87 @ Adelaide Arena R18 Adelaide def. Melbourne 99-82 @ Hisense Arena R23 Adelaide def. Melbourne 99-94 @ Adelaide Arena


Key Matchups:

Adam Gibson vs. Chris Goulding

The two Australian guns will go head-to-head in a contest which will go a long way to deciding the fate of their respective sides. Goulding has struggled in his past two games with Adelaide, which have resulted in two comfortable wins to the 36ers. He managed to get off the leash in their first clash for the year in a win and nearly brought them back from the dead in a huge comeback in round five which fell three points short. Gibson, a brilliant defender who can hurt teams at the other end as well, will look to keep the Melbourne star under wraps and force the Tigers to find offense outside of him – something that Melbourne has struggled with at times this season.

Daniel Johnson vs. Scott Morrison

Johnson has been a star all season and is well and truly in contention to take out the MVP award. The star big man has averaged just under 20 points per contest whilst cutting apart teams inside the paint. He is a huge part of Adelaide’s offense and will be looking to continue his stellar form into the playoffs. The Tigers, meanwhile, will be relying on import Morrison to match it with the Sixers gun. The Canadian big man is a unique import choice and has served the Tigers well, and is capable of an offensive explosion, particularly if the Tigers’ shooters aren’t firing from the outside.

Anthony Petrie vs. Mark Worthington

This matchup could be the most crucial, with Petrie and Worthington going toe-to-toe at the small forward spot. Worthington has struggled with niggling injuries all season but is capable of being the Tigers’ most important player, while Petrie is the quiet achiever of the Adelaide side and can have a massive impact on the result of their games. Both players work extremely hard and both players have the big game experience, so both will be focused on gaining an advantage for their side and helping them to a series win.


X-factors:

Gary Ervin (Adelaide)

Ervin will likely be opposing the much-improved Nate Tomlinson for most of the night, which should result in a win to the 36ers in that position. However, Tomlinson’s defensive mindset and Ervin’s inconsistencies may prove otherwise. While injury has interrupted his season and, at times, threatened to derail it completely, the Sixers import and former league MVP has still been absolutely brilliant and equally as poor throughout, and sometimes in the same weekend. Ervin loves a big game and a big moment, so the stage is set for the American to run riot.

Lucas Walker (Melbourne)

Walker has had a tough season, struggling with groin injuries and missing a chunk of action as a result. Many tipped the athletic forward to breakout in 2013/14, and when on the court he has shown glimpses of what he can do. His jump shot from the outside has developed significantly and his athleticism is unmatched by any Adelaide player for a man of his size. Walker’s second efforts on the offensive glass and his ability to get to the rack may prove to be the most important part of the Tiger puzzle in this series, and with all the focus on the likes of Goulding and Worthington this just may be Walker’s time to announce himself to the league.


Series Verdict:

While Adelaide has had the wood on Melbourne this season, the Tigers did snare an early win in very convincing fashion. In their last two meetings, however, it has been all Adelaide as the Tiger offense has broken down repeatedly. The most promising aspect for Melbourne’s loss in Adelaide last Sunday was that they scored 94 points and had a top-scorer of just 15, getting most of their bench involved at the offensive end. The 36ers have been the most consistent side of the campaign and Wright’s game plan has been executed to a tee, cutting open defences with swift offense while slowing down their opposition at the other end. Melbourne’s ability to curb the influence of Adelaide’s star scorers in Johnson and Ervin is the key, and the Tigers will need to play defence with all the tenacity we have seen throughout the season. Given two games are in Adelaide and the 36ers won the season series 3-1, they should win through to a grand final, but write off the hungry Tigers at your own peril. Adelaide 2-1