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NBL 2014/15 Round 12 Preview: Sixers, Crocs look to farewell 2014 with rare win
Adelaide 36ers vs. Townsville Crocodiles
Saturday 27th December, 2014- 7.30pm (local time)
Tickets: click here
Odds: Adelaide $1.44, Townsville $2.80
With Adelaide and Townsville both sitting at 5-10, this is a very important clash as both teams playoff chances hang by a thread. The 36ers have won two of their past three games, including an upset 90-86 victory over Cairns last round. A 25-13 third term set up the win, while four of their starters scored 16+ with Brock Motum recording 17 points and 10 rebounds. After a seven game losing streak, the 36ers are finding some consistency to their game. However, the hole they have dug themselves means it will take a very strong second half of the season to pull themselves back into the top four position that many predicted for them.
A horror stretch over the past four rounds has seen the Crocs go 1-4, losing to Cairns, Melbourne and New Zealand. Their one victory in that time was against Adelaide, a 96-84 victory at home. Turnovers have been the issue for this side, recording 20 last weekend against the Breakers while their Round 1 loss to the 36ers saw them total 16. A 1-8 road record and average losing margin of 11.6 points are the biggest concerns for Townsville though. They average 93.3 points per game at home but have not reached that number once on the road this season, averaging just 77.7 per away game.
Townsville’s leading scorer, Brian Conklin, has had two of his four best matches of the year against Adelaide. He shot 9-14 for 23 points and 7 rebounds in Round 1 before backing it up with another 23 in Round 9 on 7-12 shooting. The power forward is also a master at getting to the foul line, attempting 12 more free throws than the next best on the season (Josh Childress) while also connecting on 12 more free throws than Jordan McRae. Anthony Petrie is one of Adelaide’s premier defenders and has averaged 14 points over his past five matches. That scoring input will be vital but more importantly for Adelaide, his defence must keep Conklin in check while staying out of foul trouble as the Crocs star will look for free throws to get his game going early.
What to Watch For
The Centre Battle
Mickell Gladness is the key to Townsville’s defence while he also opens up the floor at the offensive end, giving Todd Blanchfield and Clint Steindl the space they need to hit their jump shots. The centre is currently in a slump though, averaging just 6 points and 4 rebounds in his past three games. It is the perfect time for Luke Schenscher to strike, with the Sixers centre averaging only 4.5 and 3.5 against Townsville this season. Schenscher must attack Gladness and look to get him in foul trouble because when he sits, the Crocs systems often fall apart. In their Round 9 match-up, Schenscher had Brock Motum (18 and 9) to back him up but Gladness went on a tear, recording 19 and 14 with 4 blocks. Memories of that performance may pull him out of his slump but going against the double-team of Schenscher and Motum is a tiring task for any player.
Adelaide have found some form over the past few rounds and cannot afford to lose any more games to lower ranked teams if they are to make the playoffs. Townsville have the offensive prowess to defeat the Sixers but their road record does not instil much confidence. If Schenscher and Motum can combine to keep Gladness out of the contest, Adelaide will earn their third straight home victory.
Adelaide by 6