R18 Preview: Adelaide 36ers vs Tasmania JackJumpers

When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Friday 1 April 2022

Adelaide Entertainment Centre

ESPN; Kayo; Sky Sports NZ

Who won last time?
Tasmania 76 (Adams 24, Magette 16) d Adelaide 71 (Hannahs 22, Sotto 12, Bairstow 11) – Round 9, MyState Bank Arena, Hobart

Adelaide were too good for the JackJumpers for the majority of this game but they didn’t shut the gate when they had the chance. With Tassie trailing by eight with nine minutes to play it became the Josh Magette show, the veteran reeling off eight points and two assists in the next four minutes to put the JJs ahead, from where Josh Adams made sure they iced the W.

What happened last start?

Tasmania iced a double-W last weekend, triumphing in Perth and Brisbane some 46 hours and 3600km apart. While their stars continue to be outclassed by their more highly-fancied opposition, the JackJumpers’ hard-working and underrated bench continues to deliver them victories, particularly with their aggressive defence and strong board-work.

Adelaide also had reason to smile after their comprehensive win over the Phoenix, their bench continuing their strong form, while Hyrum Harris made the most of Cam Bairstow’s absence by matching Mitch Creek for much of the night. The 36ers led by 19 late in their best performance of NBL22, and have won their past two home games by 34 points.

Who’s in the form?

Tasmania’s bench – They mightn’t have big names but the JJs reserves are putting up big performances, winning bench scoring 57-35 in two Round 17 wins by a combined four points, with MiKyle McIntosh and Clint Steindl producing 38 of those. Tassie’s second unit won bench boards 32-21, and were an accumulative +42 compared to their starters’ -22.

Sunday Dech – Do you think Dech was peeved after his scoreless 0/6 game against United? His deep triple to open the night against South East Melbourne suggested yes, and his 21-point, five-rebound, three-assist stat-line confirmed it. He’s got a massive job on Josh Adams, who’s averaged 19.5ppg on 8.5 FTAs against Adelaide, and has scored in double-figures in 12 of his past 14 games.

Who needs to be?

CJ Bruton – Necessity is the mother of all invention, and Bruton finally found a frontcourt mix that worked with Cam Bairstow injured. The mobile Hyrum Harris excelled at PF, backed up by usual SF Todd Withers, while Daniel Johnson played most of his minutes at C, where he had better match-ups at both ends. Is this the antidote for the JJ's successful small-ball?

Tasmania’s interior – The JackJumpers haven’t been able to stop Adelaide inside in their two meetings, relying on their pressure D to force 42 turnovers and limit the damage. But without Will Magnay guarding the throne, their pressure has dialled back a little to prevent easy scores on breakdowns, and they may need to focus less on guarding the arc this week.

Who’s statting up?

 - In the teams’ two meetings, Adelaide have connected at 59 per cent inside the arc, including 64 per cent inside the paint. The Sixers scored 82 points from ‘ones and twos’ in their win over South East Melbourne

 - The JackJumpers have forced Adelaide into 21 turnovers per game, and in their opening nine games forced 17 turnovers per night. In their past 13 outings, however, they’ve forced just 11.2 cough-ups

 - Adelaide and Tasmania rank ninth and 10th in starter scoring at just 55.5ppg and 50.5ppg respectively. They rank fourth and first in bench scoring, however, at 24.6ppg and 27.9ppg

 - The 36ers are the NBL’s leading offensive rebounding team, grabbing 33 per cent of available o-boards. Against Tassie this season, they’ve pulled in 38 per cent of o-boards but have given up 36 per cent at the other end

Who’s matching up?

Mitch McCarron v Josh Magette – After a horror run, Money Making Mitch’s currency is on the rise again, averaging 13.3ppg at 48 per cent, 6.7rpg, 2.7apg and 2.3spg in his past three. Perhaps most importantly, he’s been willing and able to take and make big shots, which is the next step in his development and something the 36ers need from their main man.

They really need him disrupting Magette, for while the NBA vet can score on his improvised drives, that is much-preferred for opponents than the calculated ball movement he generates when given time. Of course, ‘Gette has made just 6/37 from long range in his past six games, will Adelaide be willing to go under the screen and tempt him to fire at will?

Who’s talking the talk?

Do you think Kiwi energiser bunny Hyrum Harris was happy CJ Bruton gave him his first NBL start last round against the Phoenix?

“I just keep telling CJ I'm just happy to be here,” he said.

“Regardless of if I play 30 seconds or 30 minutes I'm just happy to be here. I'm always grateful.”

Bruton was grateful he had Hyrum in reserve once Cam Bairstow went down, but he wasn’t surprised by his impressive 11-point, 5-rebound, 3-assist, 2-steal, 2-block return.

“I've always been impressed,” Bruton said.

“He’s like the Dillon Boucher-Mika Vukona type, he’s trying to find players and set picks and get everyone involved, he’ll do whatever job you give him, if he’s on the floor he’s happy.

“If he’s off the floor he’s talking to his teammates and letting them know what he sees and how they can take advantage of it. Having a player like that is always handy and what you see is what I'm used to seeing every single day.”

It was another quality performance from a young 36er, as Adelaide continues to get a return on investment from their youth despite a disappointing season overall.

Manny Malou, Mojave King, Nick Marshall and Kai Sotto have all shown quality signs in recent weeks, while Tad Dufelmeier continued his emergence against South East Melbourne with a game-high +16.

With that crew earning increased minutes, and two of their bigs on the sidelines, it’s allowed Bruton to go back to the high-speed, high-energy style that was so impressive in pre-season.

“It's being locked in and understanding how we go about winning the game and giving ourselves the best chance to go and do it,” he said.

“Playing fast is clearly good for us and the depth that I've got, I went down the chart a little bit here to give everyone a chance to play, but again you’ve got to earn it during the week for me to put you on the floor.”

That’s been JackJumpers coach Scott Roth’s message since day one, and it’s been rewarded by some supposed ‘no names’ making outstanding contributions.

Last weekend it was development players Jock Perry and Sean Macdonald, stepping up in the absence of Will Magnay and Jarrad Weeks.

“The entire group, it doesn’t matter who’s on the floor, they're for each other and that’s the main thing,” Roth said.

“It's 11 guys out there and they're just trying to do their jobs. I always ask them just to find value in each other and let the game come to you however it may.

“We continue to share the ball, which has been fantastic, and we just grit and grind as best as we can defensively.”

Macdonald, back from helping the Boomers to a 3-0 sweep in the World Cup qualifiers, was an outstanding +17 in two wins last round as he played some seriously solid defence.

“The team’s confidence in everyone is ridiculous, I felt so good being out there, I had Scott’s trust and the rest of the boys,” Macdonald said.

“It just comes back to having the confidence to work guys defensively, playing my role, I don’t have to go out there and force stuff, just play my role knowing that we’re going to get good shots and D up.”

That’s what it comes down to for Tasmania, who will likely need to be perfect – or lose one game at the most – on the run home to make the playoffs.

But true to form, coach Roth isn’t concerned about mathematical possibilities.

“We’ll end where we’re supposed to end and it will be what it’s supposed to be, we don’t need to focus much farther than Adelaide,” he said.

“We have a lot of difficult games ahead of us, we want to finish strong and we’ll just see where it all ends up.”

For coach Bruton, wins are important, but not to ruin anyone else’s season.

“It’s all about us, it’s never about the other team and how they sit,” he said.

“Any game is winnable, it’s how you go about it throughout the week. Clearly you need to have as many bodies as healthy as possible to be 100 per cent going into the game to have a mindset you can go and win it.

“The teams we’re playing against are playing really well, so it’s more set up to be like playoff basketball, it’s not for us to be the spoiler, it’s us to do our job.”


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