NBL 2014/15 Round 3 Preview: Adelaide up a Creek with Mitch on the sidelines
Adelaide 36ers vs. Wollongong Hawks
Thursday 23rd October, 2014- 7.30pm (local time)
Tickets: click here
Odds: Adelaide $1.70, Wollongong $2.15
Despite an 8-0 start to the game, Adelaide were never truly in the contest against New Zealand last weekend, falling 80-101 after trailing by as much as 27 in the final term. They are one of three sides with a 1-2 record but face a bigger problem in overcoming a Mitch Creek injury that occurred at training during the week. Averaging 15.3 points at 55% and a team high 6 rebounds, Creek has been the 36ers most consistent player. In his absence, the veteran Peter Crawford will receive extended minutes and we could get a look at development player Sam Johns who, at just 19 years of age, impressed in a pre-season trial game against Melbourne.
Wollongong fought desperately in a tough Round 2 weekend, falling to defending Champions Perth on Friday night before being edged out by ladder leaders Cairns on Sunday. Following their victory on the opening night of the season, they have now lost three straight games, placing them on the bottom of the table. It is not all doom and gloom for the Hawks though; with their import pair in Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin firing offensively while Tim Coenraad leads the league for defensive and total rebounds as well as steals.
In his tenth year in the NBL, Adam Gibson has had a strong start to the season but with the likes of Jamar Wilson hogging the headlines, the captain is quietly going about his business. He sits second in the league for assists and steals, collects 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and is averaging more court time than any other 36er. His production on the scoreboard will need to increase in the absence of Creek this weekend but after representing Australia at the 2012 Olympics, the 27 year old has the experience and composure to put this side on his back.
What to Watch For
Statistically, Carson, Ervin and Coenraad have been Wollongong’s three best players this season but they also all sit in the top five in the league for turnovers. During their three game losing streak, the Hawks have averaged 6.6 more turnovers than their opposition while finishing 18-43 in points off those errors. Last Friday night against Perth, a 21-11 second term was enough for the Wildcats to secure the win and in that quarter, Wollongong committed six of their 19 turnovers. Then, on Sunday against the Kings, the Hawks were denied a chance to win the game when Ervin carried the ball on their final offensive play. These mistakes could be contributed to early season rust but it is an area Wollongong need to focus on if they are to get back in the winners circle.
Wollongong will look to attack the 36ers from the three point line as they average 8.5 makes per game while Adelaide have been out-scored from beyond the arc in all three of their matches. The Jamar Wilson/Gary Ervin match-up will go a long way to deciding the outcome but Mitch Creek’s absence will play the biggest role and should enable the Hawks to end their losing streak.
Wollongong by 4