Only two rounds left and apart from the Sixers, the playoffs are still well and truly up in the air. Illawarra is second on thirteen wins while Melbourne is second last on eleven wins. These next two rounds are going to be played at playoff intensity because for six teams, it is.
Question of the Week
Can Adelaide bring this kind of dominance to the playoffs, or are they just regular season warriors?
Points per game: 92.8 (1); points against per game:89.2 (8); net: +3.6 (1)
It seems that the Sixers are beatable after all. After winning fourteen out of the last fifteen games, losing was always going to happen this close to the end of the season. The Hawks are an excellent team so losing to second on the ladder in Illawarra isn’t too bad of a deal (especially after locking up the minor premiership). Adelaide shot a woeful 22% from the beyond the arc, something they hope not to happen again.
With seven assists in the game, Nathan Sobey has elevated himself to four assists per game on the season. This makes him one of only two players to average five rebounds and four assists per game (the other is Brad Newley).
Points per game: 88.7 (2); points against per game:88.6 (7); net: +0.1 (4)
Beating the league-leading Adelaide 36ers must have boosted Illawarra’s confidence no end. Even though the Hawks are second on the ladder, there is a real danger of missing the playoffs entirely, as they are only one win ahead of sixth-placed New Zealand. Fun fact: Illawarra are the only team in the league not to have a player in the top fifteen in assists per game (AJ Ogilvy is at #17), but they lead the league in team assists per game.
Points per game: 82.5 (5); points against per game:81.6 (2); net: +0.9 (2)
After a rather critical article was written on this website, the Kings have firmly put that writer in their place with two wins in the round. After taking care of a dangerous Brisbane team who had nothing to lose, they tore strips of the Breakers in the highest winning margin in Kings’ history. Greg Whittington was a man among boys this weekend, going 5/5 for 13 points in the first game, and uncorking a 16 point, eight rebound and seven assist monster showing in the second. Congratulations to Bo Liu, being the first Chinese-born player to score in the NBA. Hopefully, there is more to come!
Points per game: 80.2 (8); points against per game: 80.9 (1); net: -0.7 (6)
On the season, the Wildcats are last in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and points per game. But just like every other season it seems, Perth are in the mix for their defense. First in points allowed per game, second in opponent field goal percentage, three-point percentage and turnovers forced. This was all on display in their win against Perth, as Melbourne was held to thirteen points less than their season average and seven turnovers more than usual. The Cats didn’t shoot well (39%), but they don’t have to to make the playoffs.
Points per game: 81.0 (7); points against per game: 81.6 (3); net: -0.6 (5)
After 24 games, the Taipans have scored exactly the same amount of points as they have given up (1960). The team is on a tear as well, winning their last three games and four of the last five. Not to take away from Alex Loughton’s best game of the season with 21 points on 8/11 shooting in only 23 minutes, their win against New Zealand was slightly tarnished as all the excitement evaporated after Akil Mitchell went down with that horrific injury. The Snakes have four games left against Illawarra, Perth and a double in the last round against Adelaide, so they’ll need to put the first two away to get a puncher’s chance of the post season.
Points per game: 84.2 (3); points against per game:83.5 (4); net: +0.7 (3)
This season is teetering on the edge of the abyss after another loss, as the United have lost four of their last five and are in seventh place, again. Sydney, Illawarra, New Zealand and Perth are in their way, and the team from Victoria will probably have to win three if not four of those games to make finals. David Andersen is back, but new import Lasan Kromah will need to play more than four minutes for the team to get anywhere.
Points per game: 83.7 (4); points against per game: 85.8 (6); net: -2.1 (7)
After Akil Mitchell suffered that freak injury, the Breakers just weren’t the same and were defeated by the Taipans. That’s all well and good, but to give Sydney their greatest ever win was not a good look (sorry). Mitchell is equal first in double-doubles this season with Torrey Craig and AJ Ogilvy, so he’s a massive part of their armory and for him to miss any more games might be a deathblow. The only player to shoot above 50% from the field in the Sydney fiasco was Mike Vukona, who went a huge one from one.
Points per game: 81.7 (6); points against per game: 83.8 (5); net: -2.1 (8)
Officially, this team is done. Which is unfortunate because watching Jeremy Kendle become more and more comfortable in the league is magnificent. He averaged twenty points for the round and looks like a player that could stick around in the league for a few more years to come. Perth and Illawarra are the only games left for the bounce back Bullets and if he plays out of his mind, can Torrey Craig claw his way back into All-NBL contention after being a surefire lock at the half way mark?