NBL 2014/15 Round 9 Preview: Sunshine Swing Adelaide’s latest challenge

Cairns Taipans vs. Adelaide 36ers

Saturday 6th December, 2014- 7.30pm (local time)

Cairns Convention Centre

Tickets: click here

Odds: Cairns $1.33, Adelaide $3.35

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Following their brilliant start to the season, Cairns have fallen back to Earth, winning just two of their past six matches. They were never able to recover after a 31-10 opening term against Perth last Friday night, losing by 18 points. They did get back on the winners list two days later against Townsville but were made to earn a 91-82 victory after trailing late in the third quarter. A win against Adelaide this week would start their first winning streak since Round 4 and will help to regain the consistency that they are desperate to rediscover. When these sides met on opening night, Scottie Wilbeken’s 23 points led six Cairns players in double figures. They grabbed 7 more offensive boards and 12 more rebounds overall in a 10 point victory.

Adelaide are currently in a world of hurt, with their 84-96 defeat at the hands of Townsville last night taking their losing streak to six. They were competitive in the first half, carrying a four point lead into the main break but the Crocs took advantage of their lackadaisical defence in the second half, out-scoring the visitors by 16. From a 3-2 record, the 36ers have slumped to 3-8 and could fall as many as four games outside the top four by round’s end. Completing the Sunshine Swing on consecutive nights makes arresting this collapse very tough. However, with the hopes of finals fading, it could be the shot in the arm that this Adelaide side needs.

Key Player

Brock Motum

The signing of Brock Motum would have sent shivers up the spines of the rest of the league as the combination of the Boomers star with Luke Schenscher and Anthony Petrie made for a very imposing front court. Things have not gone to plan for the 36ers though, as they are winless since signing the big man. Motum has not been to blame for Adelaide’s slump but he has gone missing in a few games this season while his best performances have come without contributions from Petrie and/or Schenscher. His 18 points and 9 rebounds off the bench last night combined with just 2 and 3 from Schenscher while Motum’s season averages of 17.5 points and 6.3 boards are solid without being spectacular. Most problematic though, are his 3.7 turnovers per game, the worst in the league. Coach Joey Wright has toyed with playing him as a starter as well as off the bench but facing the experienced Cairns front court on Saturday night, Motum will need to play heavy and productive minutes if Adelaide are to break their current losing streak.

What to Watch For

Home and Away Records

Following their loss to Townsville on Friday night, the 36ers now own a 1-4 record on the road, with an average losing margin of almost 11 points. Offensively, they have no problems away from home but the defensive end is where they suffer. They give up 5 more points per game than they do at home while allowing the opposition to shoot 46% from the field. Conversely, Cairns are 4-1 at home with an average winning margin of 10 points. Their home court rings have not been too friendly but the Taipans have atoned for that with exceptional defence. Townsville’s 82 points last round was the highest score for an opposition at the Cairns Convention Centre this season. With an already suspect defence, Adelaide could struggle at both ends with the Taipans sure to make them work for every basket.

Final Word

Neither side comes into this match in the best form but the victor can begin their resurgence. Mitch Creek has yet to regain his form since his injury setback but if he and Adam Gibson can find the bottom of the net, Adelaide’s back court strength could be the tonic to stopping Wilbeken and Cam Gliddon. The front court is where Adelaide’s troubles really lie though and if they allow Cam Tragardh, Matt Burston and Alex Loughton the looks that they gave Townsville last night, their pain is sure to continue.

Cairns by 10