R13 Preview: Brisbane Bullets vs Tasmania JackJumpers

When: 5.30pm (AEDT), Saturday 26 February, 2022

Nissan Arena, Brisbane

ESPN; Kayo; Sky Sports NZ

Who won last time?
Tasmania 83
(Adams 20, Magette 19, Magnay 10) d Brisbane 74 (Sobey 24, Franks 19, Patterson 10) OT – Round 1, MyState Bank Arena, Hobart

A torrid opening-night overtime thriller was turned on its head when some inadvertent Nathan Sobey contact was deemed an unsportsmanlike foul, and having been dealt a technical earlier in the night, the Boomers bronze medallist was jettisoned. The JackJumpers capitalised on that blunder to record the first win in their history, riding the determined play of imports Josh Magette and Josh Adams, and a stingy defence that would soon become their trademark.

What happened last start?

The Bullets found themselves in another ugly grind on Thursday night in Cairns, giving up a 16-point margin early and never quite finding a way to bridge the gap, despite the Snakes giving them plenty of chances. The return of Nathan Sobey, scoring 11 points in 13:17, and a glimpse of a return to form from big man Tyrell Harrison were the only real positives.

In contrast, Tasmania’s win over the Hawks was filled with brilliant execution, the JackJumpers finding a way to create open looks whatever their hosts threw at them, then downing a league-record 22/42 to run up a franchise record 96 points. They made just 12/34 two-pointers and 6/6 free throws, so expect the arc to be crowded in Brisbane.

Who’s in form?

Jason Cadee – With Sobey sidelined JC has stood tall, dealing 30 dimes to just 11 turnovers in the past four games while manning the point guard spot for 34 minutes per night. In that time the Bullets have been +15, while in the brief moments he’s rested they are -21.

Josh Magette – Gette’s past six games have been superb, delivering 15.5 points, 5.5 assists and just 1.5 turnovers, while nailing 3.5 treys at 45 per cent. When Magette shoots 33 per cent or better from range the JJs are 5-1, while in losses he hits 23 per cent from deep.

Who needs to be?

Josh Adams – This is the JackJumpers’ barometer, averaging 19.4 points in wins compared to 14 in losses. He went an absurd 8/11 from long range in Wollongong, but he can’t get triple happy, in previous wins he’d racked up an average of 16 points from ‘ones and twos’.

Isaiah Moss – After scoring 18 points in 43 minutes in back-to-back games, hitting 3/7 from outside, Moss has managed just nine points on 0/6 in his next three outings to seemingly lose James Duncan’s trust. Brisbane desperately need floor spreaders, and Moss can be just that.

Who’s statting up?

 - Jason Cadee, Robert Franks and Lamar Patterson are hitting a combined 5.5 three-pointers at 35 per cent. The rest of the Bullets roster is averaging just 3.3 at 28 per cent

 - In their past two wins, Tasmania have averaged 95 points at 49 per cent from outside, with six JJs shooting 40 per cent or better. In their other 12 games Tassie has averaged 75.4 points at 29 per cent on triples, with no player shooting above 40 per cent

 - Since Christmas, the JackJumpers are 0-2 and -25 against SE Melbourne, but 6-1 and +60 against the rest of the NBL. Overall, the expansionists are 2-5 against the current top four, and 5-2 against the rest

 - Brisbane are now 1-7 and -65 in games with a total score of 170 points or fewer, compared to 4-2 and +15 in higher-scoring contests

Who’s matching up?

Lamar Patterson v Sam McDaniel – Lamar had just 12 points at 36 per cent in Cairns, his worst offensive return since opening night in Hobart, when McDaniel and Matt Kenyon teamed up to keep him to 10 on 4/14 from the field and five turnovers. They also combined for 13 defensive rebounds that night as the JJs pulled in 70 per cent of d-boards.

McDaniel hit a huge triple in OT to secure that win, but hit just five in his next 12 games before landing 4/4 en route to 20 points in the ‘Gong. Kenyon took eight games for his first three, but is 7/18 since. But with Kenyon sidelined on Saturday, can McDaniel repeat the dose solo on the in-form Lamar, who averaged 23ppg in five games leading into Round 13?

Who’s talking the talk?

Playing “the right way” is a buzz phrase in basketball at the moment, but JackJumpers coach Scott Roth doesn’t talk about it, he just gets his team to do it.

“Any time you win on the road, this league is no joke, you take every win and you cherish it and we just concentrate from one game to the next and we do the work,” he said.

“We were just playing our basketball, our style of play where we’re rallying around our defence and being aggressive, forcing turnovers and speeding teams up, regardless of who we play we do the same thing night in, night out.”

Early in the season, Tasmania’s defence was doing a lot right, but their offence was aimless. With the ball moving for the sake of movement, too much was left to their imports late in the shot clock.

But Roth and his team simplified the process, keeping the ball in Adams and Magette’s hands more throughout the shot clock, and putting their role-playing mates in positions to capitalise on the attention their guards receive as the manipulate screening action.

“My coaching staff has done an amazing job the last three or four weeks to get our offence straightened out a little bit,” Roth said.

“We've just done an enormous amount of work on the offensive end of ball movement, spacing, getting guys involved ... guys are just zeroing in on their roles and feeling comfortable about what they have to do to make this team go and what they can contribute on and off the floor, it’s been a huge growth period for us.”

While the shooting in recent games appears to be an outlier, Adams believes it is simply the JackJumpers showing their true ability to jack jumpers.

“Our defence travels, and you look at all of our games with the exception of maybe one or two, we bring our defence with us,” he said.

“Our team is full of very good shooters, once those shots start going in and we’re getting stops that makes us very dangerous.”

Brisbane’s story is the opposite. They won four of six games from Round 2 through to mid-January on the back of their star-powered offence, averaging 97.3 points in their Ws.

But new coach James Duncan wanted a more complete game, and focused on getting his team to adopt the grappling defensive style that is permissible under this season’s liberal rule interpretations.

That hasn’t gone so well, the Bullets dropping six of their past seven contests while scoring just 78.9 points, their offence struggling in the grinding style.

With the level of grabbing, pushing and checking taking place in half-court sets, it is incredibly difficult to move the ball offensively, with transition offence vital this season.

But that has been hard to come by for Brisbane of late, and the ball almost stopped moving completely on Thursday in Cairns as they relied on a continuous dose of ball-screens.

“There was a few opportunities at the end of the game when it was 71-69 where we just pissed the ball away instead of just executing,” Duncan said.

“When the ball moves and everyone is touching it – and yes you have main guys putting the ball in the basket – but when everyone is touching it and feeling good about themselves then 100 per cent something positive is going to happen.

“Maybe you miss an open shot or maybe you miss a lay-up but everybody feels it, everybody feels that energy inside. We've been doing that during these previous games, but this game we didn’t do that and we paid the price.”

That lack of ‘feel good’ offence has drained the enthusiasm for doing “the little things”, and Jason Cadee said Saturday’s clash with the relentless JackJumpers will be a stern test of his team’s character.
“Whatever’s going on I don’t know, we just can’t figure it out for a full four quarters at the moment and it shows,” he said.

“It’s really going to see personnel wise who’s going to show up on Saturday and do stuff for each other, because when you have these quick turnarounds there’s nothing you can improve on court.

“It’s a mentality thing and I guess we’ll find out as a unit who’s willing to come and do the little things for each other and actually want to do stuff that’s going to help us win.

“We've lost three games now by under three points or four points, it’s not like we’re far away, but it’s frustrating.”


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