A home cooked meal and a familiar bed will do wonders for a team, with this season’s Cairns Taipans being a textbook example. Their first three games were on the road they were beaten comprehensibly. Fast forward to after round four where they defeated Melbourne comfortably in their opening home game and then took that confidence into Illawarra to beat the Hawks. Can this streak continue? For Snakes fans, I hope so.
Question of the Week
Is Cairns’ home court advantage the most overwhelming in any Australian sport? The Taipans have now won their past sixteen home openers which is incredible.
Record – 5-1
Points Per Game: 87.0 (2); Points Allowed Per Game: 78.0 (2); Net: +9.0 (1)
The Kings just keep getting better and better. It must feel good to replace the injured Kevin Lisch with an 870 NBA game player in Steve Blake, and STILL have Julian Khazzouh to join the squad. Brad Newley stepped up in the Kings’ win over the Hawks with 29 points and eight rebounds and would be the favourite for player of the round.
Are they the best team ever? Some fans have already made the prediction of guaranteeing the championship to Sydney, but they’re already behind the 1986 Adelaide 36ers who hold the record for the best single-season at 24-2 (92.3% win rate).
Record – 4-2
Points per game: 75.3 (8); Points Allowed Per Game: 73.7 (1); Net: +1.6 (3)
What a tumultuous week for the usually cool and calm Wildcats. Andre Ingram leaves the team and former sacked import Jaron Johnson is reinstated. Then Damian Martin goes down with an injury and the Cats get their four-game winning streak snapped by the then bottom of the ladder Illawarra Hawks. Geez, talk about drama.
They’re still the stingiest team in opponent’s points allowed and should have Martin back after next week, so one week isn’t going to sink the ship. New starting point guard Corban Wroe is going to need to have a better game next week because he’ll be matched up on MVP favourite Jerome Randle and the 36ers.
Record – 3-3
Points Per Game: 79.7 (7); Points Allowed Per Game: 80.2 (4); Net: -0.5 (5)
Excluding the second quarter where Sydney pummelled Brisbane 23-12, the Bullets outscored the Kings in the remaining three-quarters. Torrey Craig has flourished in his starting role this season after coming off the bench with Cairns last year. He’s a beast on the boards (10.5 rebounds per game, best in the league) and his scoring is getting better the more comfortable he gets.
It’s a mouth-watering thought to see Craig and a healthy Cam Bairstow inhaling rebounds, but this team will only go as far as their backcourt, and so far, the Bullets guards have been disappointing.
Record – 3-4
Points Per Game: 80.7 (5); Points Allowed Per Game: 79.7 (3); Net: +1.0 (4)
If the 36ers didn’t get smacked by the Breakers, then Melbourne would be lower on this list. Excuses can only get a team so far: they came across the Travis Trice buzz saw (note to self, new nickname for Trice: The Buzzsaw), they’re missing their leader in Chris Goulding, the team isn’t clicking. They need to pull their finger out and play as a team, instead of relying on their talent to get the team over the line.
It’s not fun to single players out for criticism, but the way David Andersen has been playing has been very underwhelming. He was outclassed by fellow evergreen in Mark Worthington and needs to step up his game and show why people were so hyped about him. He’s currently sixth on the team in points scored which isn’t great for a scorer.
Record – 3-3
Points Per Game: 89.0 (1); Points Allowed Per Game: 96.3 (8); Net: -7.3 (8)
If the season finished today, then the 36ers would be in the playoffs. Talk about crazy. Adelaide might have been smashed by New Zealand, but Nathan Sobey had a blinder. 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals well and truly took the spotlight off Jerome Randle for at least one round.
It wasn’t a fluke either as he’s third in the league in points, sixth in assists and sixteenth in rebounds. He’s shooting a ridiculous 58% from the field and a whopping 60% from three, good for second in the league for players attempting at least one three-pointer. The Most Improved Player award race is heating up between Sobey and Jason Cadee.
Record – 2-3
Points Per Game: 85.6 (3); Points Allowed Per Game: 83.8 (6); Net: +1.8 (2)
A few quotes from last week’s power rankings:
“It just seems that the Breakers are neither good nor bad.”
“Corey Webster and Kirk Penney haven’t lit the world on fire.”
“They’re so bland.”
So, what do the Breakers do? Destroy Adelaide by 26 points, Penney and Webster combine for 49 points and put this writer firmly back in his place. It was a powerhouse performance and may be impressive enough to turn this young season around. Games against Melbourne and Brisbane next round will go a long way to seeing if this game was just a one-off and if they can take care of United and the Bullets, then the rest of the league should beware.
Record – 2-5
Points Per Game: 85.6 (4); Points Allowed Per Game: 87.9 (7); Net: -2.3 (6)
Beating Perth at any stage of the season is impressive, even if the Wildcats were in a state of bother. Losing to Cairns in Illawarra was not a good look, especially losing by 15 points. This team is the Two-Face of the NBL when they’re good they can stay close to any team. When they’re bad, they’re the worst team in the league. And this round was a textbook example.
Marvelle Harris is still doing his thing, but he needs help, especially from Michael Holyfield. If Holyfield doesn’t improve then don’t be surprised to see him sent packing.
Record – 2-3
Points Per Game: 80.0 (6); Points Allowed Per Game: 83.4 (5); Net: -3.4 (7)
A home court for any team should be their last stand and kudos to the Taipans for having their way with Melbourne in their first home game of the season. Trice was fantastic, but it was Mark Worthington who stepped up and got those wins. At 33 years old, Worthington was calm and collected and showed his experience in both the Melbourne and the Illawarra games.
It was tempting to put the Snakes higher on the list until a particular statistic was brought to light that could doom the Taipans: in the last ten years, only one team who has started the season at 0-3 has made the playoffs, and that was the South Dragons in 2006-07 who finished at 15-19 and ended up seventh.