NBL 2014/15 Round 16 Preview: Sixers welcome DJ as playoffs hopes beckon

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Wollongong Hawks (3-18) v Adelaide 36ers (10-11)

Friday January 23, 7:30pm (local)

WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong

Odds: Wollongong Hawks $2.25, Adelaide 36ers $1.65

Tickets


The Hawks again face the streaking 36ers tonight. After going head to head last week, and giving the 36ers a scare, you can bet the Hawks will be beaming with confidence knowing they can possibly win this game.

As of right now, these teams sit at polar opposites in terms of where they are headed. The Hawks are a team that can’t seem to find any sort of defensive consistency, and have subsequently struggled to win many games this year. They're probably better than their 3-18 record suggests, but not by much.

On the other end Adelaide have been on fire. After starting with some up and down play, the 36ers have found their rhythm and now sit one game behind Melbourne for that fourth and final playoff spot.

The Hawks will need everything to go right for them to put another win in the column. Rhys Martin will have to do a good job of taking care of the ball, whilst Wollongong will want their big guys to knuckle down and do their best to contain the 36ers dominate frontcourt.

That frontcourt just became a lot harder to stop, as Daniel Johnson returned from his European trip and re-signed for the remainder of the year with Adelaide. They now boast a versatile and strong group of bigs who could be a big problem for the Hawks tonight.


Key Player

Jahii Carson

The Wollongong firecracker has been coming off the bench for the Hawks. After scoring 14 against Adelaide last week, you can bet the American will want to duplicate that and hopefully improve on it. Wollongong fell just short last week and a fantastic game by Carson could tip them over the edge.

He has the speed and athleticism to give Jamar Wilson a problem and if the Hawks are smart they will use the uber athletic guard to limit Wilson, who went off for 27 points in last week's meeting.

Wollongong’s chances of beating the Hawks are slim, but they could increase with a great game from Jahii and some lock down defense to boot.


What To Watch For

Daniel Johnson and Brock Motum’s first time playing together

On paper these guys should probably be the best 4 and 5 man duo in the NBL. But these things can take time to develop and with the 36ers suddenly in win now mode they cant afford any more losses (especially due to chemistry issues) at this late stage in the season. Both have the ability to shoot from 15 feet with Motum having slightly more range.

Motum played really well in last weeks contest, scoring 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds. The Aussie has been developing consistency with Petrie who has been doing a lot of the dirty work for the 36ers in this recent surge. The addition of Johnson could see the NBL’s version of Duncan and Robinson or we could see two guys struggle to co-exist on the same floor. For my sake and every fan of NBL basketball lets hope it’s the former.


Final Word

It's a real struggle to conceive of a way in which the Hawks win tonight. Though they pushed Adelaide to the limit last week, they now face a fresh 36ers side that should be thinking playoffs is a real possibility.

The addition of Johnson throws a slight wildcard in there, however it would take an almost catastrophic meltdown by the boys from down south to give this one away.

Wilson has been great, making up for Adam Gibson's decline in play, whilst Mitch Creek has been finding his groove. I think they bring Johnson along slowly and stick to mostly the same stuff that’s been working. Facing Wollongong, with the playoffs at stake? No problem.

Adelaide by 12