R14 Preview: Tasmania JackJumpers vs NZ Breakers

When: 5.30pm (AEDT), Saturday 5 March 2022

Where: Silverdome, Launceston

Broadcast: ESPN; Kayo; Sky Sport NZ

Who won last time?

Tasmania 83 (Magette 22, McVeigh 17, Adams 11) d New Zealand 59 (Besson 19, Wetzell 15) – Round 9, MyState Bank Arena, Hobart

Have a home game against Tasmania in Hobart, it will be great. No really. On a day to forget, the Breakers made the Anthill their home and were quickly stung by a swarm of ferocious JackJumpers, who led by 10 at quarter-time and 26 at the half before cruising to victory. This was the day Josh Magette rediscovered his jumper and he’s hardly looked back since.

What happened last start?

The JJs held NZ to just 59 points that day, solidifying their spot as one of the NBL’s elite defensive units. How things have changed. It’s now more than a month since Tassie kept an opponent under 80 points, and after a stingy start where they held Perth to 16 points in the opening term, the floodgates opened and they allowed 73 in the final 30 minutes.

The Breakers weren’t pretending to be a good defensive team last Tuesday against the Hawks, instead racking up 47 points in the opening half to trail by two. But as fatigue set in for the undermanned Kiwis, so did the errors and the Hawks capitalised in transition, scoring a further 53 after interval, their interior scoring a decisive factor in the game.

Who’s in form?

MiKyle McIntosh – The Canadian line-backer has dropped a cool 36 points at 68 per cent in just 45 minutes the past two games, hitting 2/4 from deep. His fumbly early-season handles have gone, now he’s a one-on-one machine most teams are struggling to match-up on.

Kyrin Galloway – The athletic Galloway poured in 16 points in 24 minutes against the Hawks, after managing just 19 in his previous 12 games. He shot 9/11 from two-point range and pulled in 3 o-boards. With Yanni Wetzell again sidelined, NZ need more of the same.

Who needs to be?

Chasson Randle – Of course, Galloway could be even more effective if he had the penetration and sweet dishes of Jeremiah Martin to feed off. The Breakers chose Randle instead, who’s averaged 11ppg at 34 per cent and just 1.2 assists. It’s time to step up.

Scott Roth – Losing Will Magnay has impacted the JJ’s interior and pick-and-roll D, but their defence also relies on forcing errors, and without Matt Kenyon that pressure has dropped away. Roth must find a way to reapply the heat without leaving the paint vulnerable.

Who’s statting up?

 - JackJumpers opponents have averaged 87 points and 12 turnovers in the past five games. Over their opening 11 outings, those numbers were 76.3ppg and 16 turnovers. Opponents are attempting five more field goals and 4.7 more free-throw attempts in the past five

 - In wins, New Zealand average 60.5 points from ‘ones and twos’, compared to just 49.6 in losses. Their average winning margin is nine points

 - The Breakers past four losses have been by a combined 93 points, giving up 94.3ppg while scoring just 71ppg themselves

 - Tasmania have averaged 85ppg in their past five games, with 13.2 treys at 41 per cent, up from 75.8ppg on 8.6 trifectas at 29 per cent. Their two-point makes have dropped from 19.1 in the first 11 games to just 15.6 in the past five

Who’s matching up?

Josh Magette v Peyton Siva – Going into Tasmania’s Round 9 meeting with the Breakers, Magette was averaging just 1.8 triple at 24 per cent. He went 7/11 from the arc that day en route to 22 points and 8 dimes, and has hit 3.3 treys per game at 44 per cent since. In the JJs past four wins, he’s had a staggering ratio of 21 assists to just 3 turnovers in 123 minutes.

While Siva’s offensive poise is unquestioned – averaging 16ppg at 40 per cent from range, with 26 assists to 14 turnovers in the past seven games – can he provide the disruptive defence needed to stop Magette manipulating ball-screens to open up the JackJumpers’ perimeter shooters, who have been in vastly improved form over the past month.

Who’s talking the talk?

Remember when Clint Steindl was that shoot first, second and third youngster who thought de fence was the thing that went around de house?

That was a long time ago now, he’s become a captain who is invested in defence and who gets grumpy when his team’s standards drop.

“The biggest thing for us is we wanted to fix out ill-discipline from a couple of nights ago in Brisbane,” he said after the loss to Perth.

The once fearsome JackJumpers defence is having a lot of trouble executing for four quarters without Magnay and Kenyon.

In the first term against the Wildcats they allowed just 16 points at 30 per cent. After that they leaked 73 at 56 per cent.

Frustratingly for Steindl and Co, even when Perth were off target they often got the ball, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds from 35 field-goal misses.

“At stages they hit tough shots but it’s the easy ones that we've got to be disciplined with,” Steindl said.

“We’re 16 games into the year, we've got a pretty good idea of what we need to do and a lot of it is discipline stuff, it’s not coming down to how long we've been together.

“You need to take away easy baskets, you need to rebound, that just comes down to need and want to do it.

“We’ve shown it over the course of the season, we just had a pretty rough weekend of trying to fix those things.”

While missing two starters is tough, New Zealand were without almost half their roster against the Hawks.

“We missed five players today, one of them for a good cause, playing with the Tall Blacks ...(but) it was a little challenging coming into this game without those five,” coach Dan Shamir said.

“Talking about the players who are not playing is never smart in the press conference after the game, (but) it’s tough to manage a game without Will and without Yanni.”

After the capitulation to Melbourne in Round 12, the Breakers’ performance was a marked improvement, going blow-for-blow with the fifth-placed Hawks until their shortened rotation ran out of gas.

The good news is that Ousmane Dieng, Rob Loe and injury replacement Sam Short come into Saturday’s line-up, although Wetzell, McDowell-White and Tom Abercrombie remain sidelined, and Hugo Besson is in doubt.

“We definitely played with a lot of effort and did a lot of good things up to 60-60. Then they had a run that we didn’t recover from,” Shamir said.

“For 25 minutes, somewhere in third quarter, we were still executing, making mistakes but still executing, we hung in there, fought the fight, but unfortunately lost it.”

The other positives were the form of young big men Kyrin Galloway and Sam Timmins.

“Kyrin and Sam are in a position where they don’t know how much they're going to play each night, if they're going to play,” Shamir said.

“Some games they can go with nothing, and some nights when the match-ups are right or the foul trouble is there they can go. It’s not an easy place to be.

“Today they had a chance, it was not perfect but Kyrin finished well, had 70 per cent from the field which is nice.”

The JackJumpers have struggled to defend the forward spots this year – Vic Law and Luke Travers combined for 35 on Monday – setting up and opportunity for Galloway and Finn Delany to take it at Jack McVeigh and MiKyle McIntosh, who are both piling in numbers themselves.

“Jack turned the corner and we really started focusing on him about 6-8 weeks ago, making sure he was getting shots for him, making sure our offence was getting tweaked towards some of his strengths,” coach Scott Roth said.

“MiKyle’s found his way a little bit, the defence of both those guys has to continue to improve for us to be successful, but they are playing at a really good level.”

Where McIntosh has been effective defensively is surprise half-court traps, Shawn Redhage style, and if Steindl is on the mark, the JackJumpers will be utilising that more on Saturday in a must-win game to keep their playoff fate in their own hands.

After Perth streaked 17 ahead in the final term, Tassie got up the floor and almost got themselves back in the game, and defending New Zealand is a lot easier when Peyton Siva and Co can’t flow into their diverse ball-screen portfolio.

“We tried to turn up the pressure in the fourth and I think we probably need to do that earlier on in the game, take some chances there,” Steindl said.


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