Sixers focused on Bullets battle
Adelaide’s NBL24 season is still alive, but the 36ers must travel to Brisbane and defeat the Bullets on Friday night.
Both sides are coming off disappointing losses and need success on Friday night to keep their NBL Play-In dreams alive.
Brisbane, under new head coach Justin Schueller, has turned the whole organisation around this year and will be fired up at the opportunity to make the post season.
The 36ers, who have six of their past eight matches, will look to rebound after last Sunday afternoon’s 109-86 loss to Tasmania JackJumpers in Hobart.
Everything is on the line in this game – so expect the unexpected.
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Tokyo 2021 Olympic bronze medallist Nathan Sobey is the man for the Bullets and he will want to lift his side into playoff contention.
Sobey has a licenese to score within the Bullets offense and Adelaide must negate the combo guard attacking the basket, especially on his left hand, while also getting a hand up to his jump shot.
It’s a tough defensive assignment for the 36ers. Nick Marshall has the size and wingspan to contest with Sobey, as does Trey Kell, but expect Adelaide to run multiple defenders at Sobey, including Mitch McCarron, Sunday Dech and even Alex Starling.
Sobey is averaging 19.6 points per game during NBL24, his second-best personal points per game average across his 10-year journey and scored a career-high 36 points in the Bullets’ loss to Adelaide on Christmas Eve.
As well as Sobey, the Bullets have a big man trio of Tyrell Harrison, Aron Baynes and Rocco Zikarski who will make life tough for Isaac Humphries.
The Bullets use the big man trio on rotation at the centre spot throughout the 40 minutes and the 36ers can use this to their advantage depending on which ‘big’ is out on the floor.
This gives Brisbane a lot of rim protection, but Adelaide must continue to attack the basket and get to the free throw line, which has been a focus across the past two months of the campaign.
Three-time NBL champion Casey Prather has joined the Bullets roster during the Festive Season and has made an instant impact for his third NBL team.
Prather, who has sit out most of the past two seasons due to injury, brings that X-Factor to the Brisbane line-up and Schueller uses his swingman import for quality, not quantity.
The 198cm swingman has averaged 7.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game so far across the NBL24 season, but Prather can easily become a matchwinner – especially late in games.
Adelaide can attack Prather at both ends of the floor but he will be a focus offensively for the Bullets when he is on the court.
Expect Trey Kell or Nick Marshall to get the assignment of curtailing Prather, while Sunday Dech could also get the match-up.
Bullets import duo of Shannon Scott and Chris Smith cannot be underrated either, both can be matchwinners on any given night and can hurt the 36ers if they’re not shown the respect they deserve.
PG: Scott / Norton
SG: Sobey / White / Hadley
SF: McDaniel / Prather
PF: Bannan / Smith
C: Harrison / Baynes / Zikarski
THE FINAL WORD
There is no other way to describe this game than the playoffs have started early for both sides.
This is a must-win match if either Adelaide or Brisbane want to taste the NBL Play-In action this season.
Adelaide return to Brisbane, where the 36ers opened their campaign by scoring the first 15 points against the Bullets, but fell 86-71 in Round 1.
There is no margin for error now, and the equation is simple, win to keep your NBL24 dreams alive.