News

Semi-Finals Preview: Perth v Illawarra

Who: Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks What: Swisse NBL Finals, Semi-Final Game 1 When: 9.30pm (AEDT), Friday 19 February Where: Perth Arena Watch: Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Perth 95 (Beal 22, Prather 20, Jawai 18) d Illawarra 72 (Forman 17, Coenraad 16, Lisch 14), Round 16, Perth Arena THE MATCH-UP Damian Martin v Kevin Lisch – When collecting the NBL’s Best Defensive Player award on Wednesday, Lisch noted it was a shame Martin had missed so many games, then subtly added “I’ll see you Friday”. That’s as close as the mild-mannered MVP gets to off-court trash talk, but once he crosses the white line he becomes a fierce competitor, and his battle with the warrior-like Martin is sure to be something special. One key question is will Lisch will defend Jermaine Beal at the other end? THE STATS Lisch has averaged 17.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and shot 28 per cent from long range against Perth, compared to 21.8 points, 3.9 boards and 43 per cent against the rest of the league. In losses the Wildcats concede 63ppg from free throws and two-pointers, but in their two wins over Illawarra at Perth Arena they’ve given up just 39 and 44. THE STORY “I was probably getting ready to go to college,” Kevin Lisch chuckled when he asked what he was doing in 2005. That’s the last time the Hawks won in Perth, this season they’ve lost by 29 and 23 in the west, but Lisch isn’t too perturbed by the history. “I’m kind of oblivious to it all. You have people tell you the stats, but really it makes no difference,” he said. “The bottom line is they're a good team at home and that’s probably got something to do with it.” When asked about his match-up with good friend Damian Martin he said, “Damo’s a great defender, you might hit a couple at the beginning but you know he’s just going to keep coming at you”, but quickly added that one-on-one battles will do the Hawks no favours. “It sounds boring, you may think I’m playing it off, but I don’t look at it as a one-on-one, because once I start getting into that the team side of things doesn’t work,” he said. One constant from Lisch’s Perth days to this season is the physical pressure that brings opposition ball movement to a halt and forces contested jumpers or drives into their waiting bigs. From there they rebound and run, but they’re also deadly in the half-court when Beal is firing. “They're so big that you have to get them moving, but we’re a team that plays up tempo so if we get a good shot in the first couple of seconds we’re going to have to take and we want to take it,” he said. “Really it’s a fine line that we’ve been playing with all year … (but) if we don’t take care of our game plan nothing’s going to work.” Perhaps the biggest key is getting AJ Ogilvy involved, particularly on the glass where Perth have dominated. He has averaged just 5.3 rebounds against the Wildcats, down from 9.0 against the rest of the league. But Lisch knows getting his big man some easy scores, from positions where he can use his mobility, could get the rest of his game clicking. “It’s just moving the ball so guys like AJ can catch it dynamically, because anybody against Jawai or Matty (Knight) or Tom Jervis when it’s stagnant or when it’s just one-on-one, it’s going to be tough to score,” he said. “It comes down to good spacing and moving the ball, but more than anything for us it’s our defence and rebounding that will ultimately decide things.” THE WRAP Dare to win. It was the NBL’s theme song in 1989, and it should be the motto for this playoff series for the Hawks, who must whole-heartedly implement Rob Beveridge’s game plan of high-pressure defence, high-paced offence and lightning ball movement to have any chance. In the half-court, piercing Perth’s defensive wall is critical, and the weak point is their big men sagging off the ball-screen. The Hawks’ guards need patience to exploit this – and Kirk Penney, Rhys Martin and Lisch are all capable – and then bring the rolling Ogilvy into play when the Wildcats adjust. In two meetings at Perth Arena the Wildcats have pulled in 24 offensive boards to nine and got to the free-throw line 50 times to 29, their physicality inside wearing the Hawks down to win both second halves by a combined 98-54. Perth’s work preventing Illawarra out-letting quickly from defensive boards is crucial, because if they can slow Lisch and Penney in transition, then force contested jumpers in the half-court, the Wildcats’ ability to run off opposition miscues should prove too much for the Hawks.
NEWS

Taipans Complete Roster with Experienced Point Guard

12 hours ago

NEWS

Perth Add NBL1 Standout as DP

20 hours ago

FEATURE

Gliddon Eyes Return to Best

20 hours ago

NEWS

Report: Makur Maker Signs NBA Deal

1 day ago

NBL23

Analysis: Breakout Candidates

1 day ago

NEWS

Humphries Drawn to United "Prestige"

1 day ago

FREE AGENCY

36ers Add “Extra Edge” to Roster

1 day ago

NEWS

NBL Trading Cards Return With Topps

2 days ago

GAME REPORT

Gaels Overrun Phoenix in OT Thriller

2 days ago

FREE AGENCY

Hawks Welcome Emerging Point Guard

2 days ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates