There are only six rounds to go in the 40th NBL season, and it seems the playoff positions are pretty much sewn up. Perth, Melbourne and the Breakers are all tied for first place at 12-6 while Illawarra has to make up three games in those six rounds to knock off Adelaide for the final postseason position. Possible? Absolutely. Probable? Not really.
Question of the Week
How well will new recruit Rakeem Christmas integrate into the Breakers’ structure?
Next Round: Melbourne (home), Brisbane (away)
ORtg: 117.6 (1); DRtg: 109.1 (3); Net: +8.6 (1)
The Wildcats had a disappointing weekend by their standards. First, they ran into a Majok Deng Buzzsaw to lose to the Sixers, and then “only” beat the Kings by eight points in a very uninteresting game. With Melbourne and New Zealand tied for first place with Perth, they will need to bring their all against the United next round to re-assert their dominance.
Next Round: Perth (away)
ORtg: 111.6 (4); DRtg: 105.8 (1); Net: +5.8 (2)
It may not have been pretty. It may not have been convincing. But Melbourne found a way to keep their winning streak going after being down by 17 points to the Hawks. A 23-12 last term did the job and sometimes just getting the job done is all a team needs. Chris Goulding has been back to his best during this six-game winning streak, averaging nearly 19 points a game on 50% from beyond the arc.
Next Round: Illawarra (away)
ORtg: 114.6 (2); DRtg: 112.2 (5); Net: +2.4 (4)
Thomas Abercrombie should buy a lottery ticket this week because it seems like he’s a good luck charm. In only 24 minutes he was +33, far better than the Breakers’ 13-point win. He’s tied with AJ Ogilvy to lead the league in blocks per game with 1.6 swats per contest, showing that he still has hops in those legs still.
Next Round: Cairns (home), Sydney (away)
ORtg: 110.8 (6); DRtg: 108.3 (2); Net: +2.5 (3)
Where has this Majok Deng been all season? The confidence! The straight up, dead eye, cold-blooded three pointers! The excitement and swagger! It was all on display with 16 points in one quarter in the win against Perth, and he backed it up with twelve points in the win against Brisbane. If Deng keeps firing like this, the Sixers are going to put the rest of the league on notice.
Next Round: New Zealand (home)
ORtg: 112.8 (3); DRtg: 114.0 (6); Net: -1.2 (6)
The Hawks really could have done with that win, and now they are staring down the barrel of a season without a postseason. It’s not from a lack of trying; it’s just that they didn’t get the production from their best players. Which is understandable, as Rotnei Clarke and Demetrius Conger have put this team on their backs more times than should be allowed. They now must claw back three games in six rounds from the top four which is a massive undertaking.
Next Round: Adelaide (away)
ORtg: 109.6 (8); DRtg: 110.4 (4); Net: -0.8 (5)
Alex Loughton needs to go to the doctor to get that wicked case of whiplash checked because he had the most extreme weekend of games. In game one, he was in scintillating form with 22 points on 13 shots in 29 minutes as the Taipans upended Brisbane by three points. In game two, he laid a goose egg, shooting 0/9 from the field for zero points as they lost to New Zealand. Talk about all over the place.
Next Round: Perth (home)
ORtg: 111.0 (5); DRtg: 116.6 (7); Net: -5.5 (7)
The Bullets had a great game from Daniel Kickert (27 points, eight rebounds) and Travis Trice (26 points, five assists) but nothing from Perrin Buford (injured) in a loss to Cairns. Next up they had a great game from Buford (19 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and a rubbish game from Kickert and Trice 19 points, 7/21 FG combined) as they went down to Adelaide. This team needs some consistency, but it seems that it may be too little, too late as the playoff door has pretty much closed on the Bullets.
Next Round: Adelaide (home)
ORtg: 110.1 (7); DRtg: 120.0 (8); Net: -9.9 (8)
At least it was a loss by single digits. This team just isn’t trying anymore it seems, shown by the 16 offensive rebounds they gave up. Derek Cooke Jr snagged seven by himself. Will Kevin Lisch’s return (said to be next game against Adelaide) steady the ship and give the team a sense of pride for the rest of the season? As that is all, they are playing for now.