Bruton expects tough fight in Phoenix battle
Adelaide 36ers head coach CJ Bruton is expecting a physical game against South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday night on Brett Maher Court.
The 36ers will be looking to bounce back from last round’s 82-72 loss to Tasmania JackJumpers at home and Bruton said his side has responded this week on the training court.
“The way they got us last game, our guys have been great all week, our physicality has been up a notch, the way we have moved the ball,” Bruton said on Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to putting it on the floor for everyone to see.
“We need it (victory), for a lot of reasons.”
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Bruton said the 36ers must quell the impact of Phoenix frontcourt duo Alan Williams and Mitch Creek and be smart on the defensive end.
“It’s definitely going to be a physical game between Alan Williams and Mitch Creek, two guys who live at the free throw line, they’re the highest scoring team in the competition,” Bruton said.
“We need to keep them as much as we can away from the basket and not fouling them by playing vertical and be strong.
“We have to also take advantage of what is in front of us, we have to move the ball and we have to be strong defensively form the jump.”
Starting Friday night’s game strongly has been a focus all week and Bruton said his side needs to get the fans involved early.
“Getting out of the blocks has been something we need to be better at and slow starts in front of home crowds is not ideal,” Bruton said.
“I’d like to think this game, you will see something different.
“The looks we get early will showcase how the game goes on, I’m looking forward to a fast start.”
Bruton said the coaching staff has highlighted a few areas where the side can improve to get the NBL24 campaign back on track.
“Showing the guys some of the shortcuts they have been taking not only last week, but for the past few weeks, and how we can take advantage of our opponents,” Bruton said.
Adelaide, who are currently sitting with a 3-7 win-loss record, face a South East Melbourne side who will be keen to rebound from their Throwdown defeat to crosstown rivals Melbourne United.
Bruton knows the Phoenix will come out firing, especially with form 36ers Daniel Johnson and Mitch Creek in the line-up.
The return of club legend Johnson in a South East Melbourne uniform is an added factor to this crucial match, but Bruton is thrilled for the seven-time club MVP.
“What a legend he is and I’m glad to see him back in the NBL,” Bruton said.
“To see that he wanted to continue to play even when we didn’t sign him and knowing he was looking for other opportunities, and an injury replacement came up and they (Phoenix) needed a big.
“But, this is about us, and as of now, not only would he (Johnson) like to win, we have to make sure we come out victorious at home and play with the fire and urgency we need too.”
Adelaide face South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday night at the Entertainment Centre, watch all the action live and exclusive on ESPN via Kayo Sports.