R1 Preview: Adelaide v Perth
Tonight, the longest running rivalry in the NBL continues!
The Adelaide 36ers were impressive on Wednesday night dismantling the defending champions New Zealand by 19 points to open the 2015/16 NBL season, but the Wildcats were able to sit back, study the game, and enjoy the show.
Perth and Adelaide first traded blows back in 1982 have since produced some of the greatest NBL games of all time and continue to compete at a high intensity.
There has already been plenty of well deserved plaudits for the debut performance of Sixers centre Matt Hodgson after scoring 18 points in their win.
Hodgson will have the toughest test to follow in his sophomore game, coming up against Australian Boomer giant Nathan Jawai who returns for his first game in the NBL since February 2008.
Nate’s addition has moved Matty Knight down a position but they will both have to be on their toes to face the mobile Adelaide forwards who will look to keep the keyway open, the opposite of the huge front line for Perth who will be heading into the paint whenever they can.
University of Florida swingman Casey Prather will be expected to score highly in his NBL debut for the Perth Wildcats. He tempted the crowds at the pre-season Blitz with some acrobatics in short bursts and should be a crowd pleaser when in full flight.
One area the Wildcats do appear a little thin in is the guard rotation and that will be a significant factor if Damian Martin cannot play due to a calf injury.
With a lack of guards on the Perth roster, expect Adelaide to push the ball as fast as possible to create scores.
History over the last 13 seasons reveals that Adelaide have started a season with two straight wins just once -in 2009- and looking any further than two in a row at this stage would be foolish against not only the most successful NBL team of all time, but also their greatest rivals.
BY THE NUMBERS
Head-to-head: 117 games played.
Adelaide 36ers: 54 wins.
Perth Wildcats: 63 wins.
In Adelaide: 42 games played.
Adelaide 36ers: 26 wins.
Perth Wildcats: 16 wins.
2014/15 in Adelaide:
Round 7) Wildcats by 10
Round 20) 36ers by 7
Ebi Ere will play his 150th NBL game in this one. Coincidentally, his first two NBL games were played against Perth debuting with 25 at Challenge Stadium in October 2003 and following that with 17 at the Kingdome against Sydney. Including those games, Ere became the first and only player since in NBL history to be undefeated in his first ten games played since time began being recorded in 1987.
HOMETIME - Following the 36ers hosting the Breakers on Wednesday night, this will be the first time in NBL history that any team has had to play two home games in the opening round of a season. This will not be an unusual event going forward with the new compressed schedule listing a further 12 times that clubs host two home games in the same round.
HI, JAWAI - Nathan Jawai returns to the NBL for the first game since February 2008. It has been 2788 days or 7 years, 7 months and 19 days since his last game for Cairns against New Zealand in the 2008 playoffs. Jawai’s break is the sixth longest away from the NBL by any player in League history.
Although Jawai led Cairns into the playoffs in 2008, there was three teams the Taipans could not beat that season, the Tigers, the Kings and the 36ers. The two losses to Adelaide that year were by 6-points in Cairns and by 9-points in Adelaide in February 2008.
LOSS RECORD - The Perth Wildcats ended 2015 without a win in their past four matches on the road. If they lose this game in Adelaide, it will be the first time they have lost five straight away games since February 2005.
All three of the Wildcats highest scores of last season came against Adelaide but they lost twice.
Perth’s highest scores of 2015:
102 vs Adelaide 106 at Perth Arena round 15
97 vs Adelaide 76 at Perth Arena round 10
94 vs Adelaide 101 at Adelaide round 20
93 vs Townsville 85 at Townsville round 16 (overtime)
93 vs Townsville 78 at Perth Arena round 6