In the NBL, tough decisions are being made about veterans. On Sunday, the New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans could determine who comes in second place behind the Sydney Kings. The last month of the NBL season has begun, and the Kings will easily win the regular season title. On the other hand, the Breakers and Taipans are fighting for second place and a guaranteed spot in the semi-finals.
In the NBL23, six teams remain in the playoff hunt. The Tasmania JackJumps, Perth Wildcats, Adelaide 36ers, South East Melbourne Phoenix, and Melbourne United are fighting for the last three playoff spots. Round 15 of NBL23 started on Tuesday night with two games. The Tasmania JackJumps beat the Illawarra Hawks 92-89. Then, the Perth Wildcats beat the New Zealand Breakers 93-90.
The Sydney Kings beat the Brisbane Bullets 116-67 on Wednesday night. The Kings’ victory is the most points they’ve ever won in a 40-minute game. On Thursday night, the action continues with two crucial games. The New Zealand Breakers play Melbourne United in Christchurch to start things off, followed by the Tasmania JackJumpers hosting the Adelaide 36ers.
On Friday night, the Cairns Taipans will host the Illawarra Hawks and hope that star player Keanu Pinder will be back. On Saturday, the Brisbane Bullets will host Melbourne United, and on Sunday, there are two more games: The New Zealand Breakers play the Cairns Taipans, and then the Sydney Kings play the Illawarra Hawks at home. On Monday night, the round will end when the South East Melbourne Phoenix play against Brisbane Bullets.
CRITICAL DECISIONS FOR VETERANS IN THE PLAYOFFS
The race for playoff spots is heating up. The Tasmania JackJumpers captain, the Perth Wildcats vice-captain, and two veteran players from the ‘Cats and the New Zealand Breakers had their playing time cut in their last games. Teams in the middle of a fight use shorter rotations, and minutes are getting harder to come by. Clint Steindl’s minutes with the Tasmania JackJumpers and Mitch Norton’s with Perth have almost gone away in the last few days, and Cam Gliddon’s with New Zealand have also been reduced.
The four players have played a total of 1259 games. Each has a contract for next season, which is good, but they don’t seem to be a big part of their team’s plans right now as they try to make the playoffs. The Wildcats came home Tuesday night after playing five road games to play the Breakers.
Their coach, John Rillie, changed how he used his rotation in a big way. You can’t fault how it was done or how the Wildcats won by three points and put them back in the top six. Rillie only relied on six players.
The group you mentioned has played 1259 games. Each has a contract for next season, which is good, but they don’t seem to be a big part of their team’s plans as they try to make the playoffs. The Wildcats team played five games far away from home and arrived home Tuesday night to play the Breakers.
Their coach, John Rillie, changed how he used the rotation. You can’t complain about how it was done or how it turned out; it worked out fine, meaning that the Wildcats won by three points, which put them back in the top six. Rillie only needed six people to win.
We will know if this rotation will work in the future when we see how the Wildcats do against Adelaide on Saturday night. Rillie clarified that he was staying with players who had proven they could win longer. In the same game, Gliddon played for Melbourne for only 18 seconds.
Earlier this week, the Sydney JackJumpers defeated the Illawarra Hawks in a big game. But captain Steindl was not on the court. He has yet to be what his team hoped after returning from injury during the second half of this season.
After returning from an injury, Clint Steindl did not play as well as his team had hoped. Steindl was behind Jarrad Weeks, Sean Macdonald, and Matt Kenyon in the lineup, so he only got a little time on the court. Instead, Sam McDaniel played ahead of him. But coach Roth assured everyone that these players would not let their egos get in the way.
THE NEW UNITED BIG MAN MUST EXERT HIMSELF
Marcus Lee, who joined Melbourne United midway through the NBL season, has given his team a strong presence on both ends of the court. His addition to the team’s lineup has made him a valuable player. Jordan Caroline didn’t work out at first, so Lee replaced him.
He and Humphries, also a former NBA center, make a potent force up front and have proven to be a valuable duo for Melbourne. Lee’s ability to finish lob passes from guards has been a bonus for his team’s offense. He also rebounds well and provides rim protection on defense.
Lee has been playing well, getting 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks on 11 of 13 shots in a win against the Tasmania JackJumpers on Saturday night. However, he will need to keep up the excellent work. Lee will have to play big minutes and deliver, or United’s season could be done. He will have to match up against the Breakers’ Dererk Pardon on Thursday and then the Bullets’ Aron Baynes on Saturday.
Lee likes these challenges and even chatting with them on the court, but he loves playing on this Melbourne team the most and will do whatever he can to help them keep winning.
Lee said, “I enjoy talking to the players on the court during a ball takeout, as we walk down the court, or during a free throw. I like to learn a little bit about my opponents.”
“As a basketball player, I’ve learned that I play better when I’m having fun and enjoying every moment on the court. Playing for Melbourne has been easy because our coaches are always trying to make us have fun. We work hard, but we also have time to laugh and joke around with each other. Our head coach always tells us that we need to do something special for the team, and some days that means working harder than others.”
A MARQUEE SIGNING MAY BE THE FIRST STEP IN THE HAWKS IMPORTS
The Illawarra Hawks had a terrible season with their imports, but there is always hope. Tyler Harvey and Justin Robinson may return if the team can sign a local star center. The Hawks had secured Harvey and teamed him with Robinson to form a formidable backcourt.
Unfortunately, Robinson suffered a knee injury in the season opener and was out for the year. The stand-ins were competent enough: Peyton Siva was an excellent choice to take over as point guard. He performed OK, averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 dimes per game, but a shoulder injury ended his season.
He was getting Frazier might have been the best move. After the way the Perth Wildcats treated him last season, he wanted to show that he could be an absolute star and a prolific scorer in the NBL. In his eight games, he scored 17.3 points and averaged four rebounds, which is a lot.
He broke his arm playing for Illawarra Hawks on Friday night, ending his season and his terrible run of luck. The injury meant Harvey would be the Hawks’ only import for the rest of the season. Illawarra was excited to see what Robinson could do with Harvey backcourt partner AJ Ogilvy out injured, and there’s a good chance that two of their foreign players whose seasons ended early might come back next year. Illawarra is already making plans for next season, and Robinson, Harvey, and Frazier will likely be their imports. But they’re placing a lot of faith in their backcourt.
THE COACH FOR THE BREAKERS IS TIRED OF HEARING HIS TEAM CALLED “BULLIES”
Maor had kept quiet about rival coaches’ comments about his team’s physical play until a narrow loss in Perth on Tuesday night. Maor had bit his tongue while other coaches came into post-match press conferences talking about how physical the Breakers are and how they feel like they get away with a lot.
After the game, Maori said he wasn’t blaming the officials for the loss. He pointed more to the Wildcats’ 15 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points as the primary factor. However, he had to let his feelings be known that his team didn’t get the same calls that the Wildcats were getting.
The Breakers are fed up with other teams talking about their physicality in press conferences. So they hit back on Tuesday night. We’ll see what happens Thursday night against Melbourne and Sunday against Cairns.
Maor said, “I was going to keep this to myself, but apparently this is how it works in the NBL. One of their coaches complains about the refs during a press conference and then they start getting favorable calls. I don’t like it and have made it a habit all season to not complain about anything, no matter what kind of circumstances the Breakers meet. To me, it doesn’t make sense that in a game like this, Pardon shoots four free throws while Brantley only gets zero free throws. It doesn’t make sense that there is such a disparity in free throw rate between our two teams—24 for us and 14 for them.”
THE SIXERS ARE RIDING CLEVELAND’S “SUPERMAN” LUCK
When Australian basketball player Antonius Cleveland dons his Superman cape, the Adelaide 36ers become a formidable team. If he can continue to play at this level, the team could be a championship contender. However, Cleveland’s 14.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game do not do justice to his on-court impact. He is one of the most valuable players in the league because he can win games for the 36ers when it matters most.
That’s why the 36ers were so eager to sign him after his efforts last season with the Illawarra Hawks, and he has more than lived up to their expectations. Even now, most of the focus in Adelaide might be on Robert Franks, Ian Clark, Mitch McCarron, Daniel Johnson, and even Kai Sotto.
But it is Cleveland who will have the most significant say in how far they can go. Go back a couple of weeks, and he was the man who turned the home game against Brisbane into a win by leading a big finish and important victory.
Then, on Friday, he did something incredible in the final four minutes against the Illawarra Hawks. His intense defense led to turnover after turnover. Then, he went on a scoring spree in transition and showed why the 36ers are unbeatable when he’s on.
It’s fair to wonder how much longer he can maintain his current level of performance. The Sixers are in sixth place with an 11-10 record heading into Thursday night’s home game and Saturday’s away game if he can continue to play like that.
When Pippen becomes a force, Cleveland becomes a force, unlike any other player in the league. However, according to 36ers Hall of Famer Scott Ninnis, it’s unrealistic to expect Cleveland to play like that for a whole game.
People Also Read: