NBL 2014/15 Round 14 Preview: Snakes host 'Cats in potential Semi Final match-up

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Cairns Taipans (13-6) vs. Perth Wildcats (12-5)

Friday, January 9, 7:30pm (local)

Cairns Convention Centre

Odds: Cairns Taipans $1.90, Perth Wildcats $1.90


After winning the Reptile Rumble last week, Cairns comes into tonight’s game looking to edge closer to second spot on the ladder. Its been the Taipans bigs who have done the most damage over the last few games, Cairns will need more of the same to beat Perth. Scottie Wilbekin faces a tough matchup against Damian Martin, the American point guard has been limited recently. Wilbekin will need to get guys involved early.

For the away side, Jermaine Beal continues to be a consistent scoring threat, ready to explode at any moments notice. The Perth guard dropped 22 points against Wollongong last week, doing so in a variety of ways. Damian Martin continues to stake his claim on DPOY, and is without a doubt the best defensive guard in the league. Perth will be looking for his tenacity and hustle tonight as he faces a tough opponent in the ultra quick Wilbekin. DeAndre Daniels is still learning how best to contribute consistently, after scoring 18 against challengers Melbourne, DeAndre managed just 11 against the bottom feeder Hawks.

This is a tale of 2 very different teams, Perth lives and dies by it’s guard play and the brilliance of Daniels. Whilst, Cairns get most of its contributions from it’s strong interior work and their talented big men. Tonight’s game comes down to which team can get stops when it matters and who controls the half court game.

Key Player

Damian Martin

If anyone can cut the snakes head off, (pardon the pun), it’s Martin. Scottie has been good at controling the tempo of the game. Whilst, he has slowed down after his incredible start, the Florida star has still lead his team to their current standing at 3rd. Martin and Perth have caused problems for just about every starting point guard that has rolled into town, but with Perth playing away, and Wilbekin having the crowd behind him he could prove a tougher match up than most.

Martin will need to limit Wilbekin as much as he can, whilst still orchestrating his teams offence. If Martin can make life difficult for Scottie and score between 12-15 points, Perth should be able to fly back home with one more win in the record books. However, if Martin struggles with either of those tasks, the game could be a lot closer than Perth fans might have been hoping for.

What To Watch For

Playoff like atmosphere in January

With both these sides jockeying for position on the ladder, neither will be willing to give the other team the upper hand. Perth comes into this one having won the first game of the series. Cairns will be desperate to prove they can win on their home soil.

Expect the Convention Centre to be loud, as this could prove a critical game for the home team. Wilbekin has played in high-pressure games at Florida and led his team deep into the NCAA tournament. Cairns point guard will need to be a vocal leader for this team, and getting the crowd behind them early will only help his teams success.

Tonight is sure to be a classic match up and a potential semifinal preview. Which Team can steal the psychological edge and possibly home court advantage with it? Tune in and find out.

Final Word

Cairns have been great recently, their big men have really dominated and shown the rest of the league they have enough tools to challenge for the title. Perth have been good, but not on the same level we’ve seen in previous years.

With Ennis now hooping it up state side, Perth hasn’t been quite the same with Daniels expected to play a lead role.

Expect Cairns bigs to continue to cause problems, and if Stephen Weigh can get it going from deep Perth’s job will be a lot harder. Martin should be able to at least limit Wilbekin and Beal should be the scorer we all know and love.

So this one comes down to the unexpected roll players stepping up. With the home crowd behind them, Cairns' stars get the help they need and they beat Perth…….. just.

Cairns by 3