R3 Preview: Adelaide 36ers v Brisbane Bullets

When: 5.30pm (AEDT), Saturday 19 October

Where: Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Broadcast: SBS Viceland; Sky Sports NZ; SBS On Demand

The last time

Brisbane 102 (Gliddon 22, Bairstow 20, Patterson 16) d Adelaide 92 (Conger 25, Johnson 18, Froling 14), Round 13, 2018/19, Titanium Security Arena, Adelaide

The Bullets completed a clean sweep on Brett Maher Court last season, backing up Cam Gliddon’s game-winning trifecta in Round 4 by outscoring their hosts 35-14 in the final term two months later. Lamar Patterson was just two assists shy of a triple-double while ‘Glizzo’ was again a star, draining five three-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points.

The now

Brisbane opened the season with two strong wins over Illawarra and Cairns, but found the step up in shooting class too much as the Phoenix ran them out of town to the tune of 20 points last week. The Bullets clearly missed a full-strength Mika Vukona to disrupt John Roberson, but they’ll have to find some solutions with Jerome Randle coming their way this week.

There’s an air of resignation amongst Adelaide’s faithful after their loss to the Kings, yet in most competitions half the league is 0-1 after one game. Perhaps that pessimism comes from the fact Sydney looked on track to emulate Utah’s winning margin in the first half, with the 36ers taking poor shots, looking lethargic in d-trans and disorganised on defensive rotations.

The stats

- Adelaide were outscored by 54 points in the final 40 minutes by Utah, then by 22 points inside the opening 11 minutes by the Kings – a total deficit of 76 points in 51 minutes

- The 36ers lost points in the paint 40-32 to Sydney, while also being outscored 39-18 from outside the arc

- In their two wins, Brisbane averaged 33 points from long bombs at 38 per cent. In their loss to SE Melbourne they scored 21 points from range at 28 per cent

- The Bullets have given up 81 points from the arc at 47 per cent in their past two games

The match-ups

Jerome Randle v Nathan Sobey – Mates off the court but you won’t find two more competitive individuals on it, and neither wants to relinquish bragging rights against their old running mate. Last season Randle averaged 22.8 points at 47 per cent and 4.3 dimes against Sobey and the Sixers, while Sobes responded with 16.3ppg at 52 per cent and 5.8apg.

Against Sydney and Utah, Randle went at 17ppg at 47 per cent along with 4apg, so there is no reason to think he’s not the same old ‘Handles’ we’ve seen in years prior who can create something out of nothing. Sobey has also been as advertised for his new team, averaging 17.7ppg, 4.7rpg and 4.7apg, while shooting 49 per cent from the floor and 39 per cent from outside.

Daniel Johnson v Matt Hodgson – Don’t think for a second that Johnson doesn’t enjoy having Randle around once more, the pair slotting back into their two-man game last week like they’d never been apart, DJ feeding off his pint-sized pal to finish with 26 points at 50 per cent, while drawing six fouls and getting to the foul line 10 times in a vintage offensive display.

In contrast, Hodgson played just 9:17 last Sunday, Brisbane going small in an attempt to counter SE Melbourne’s ball-screen action and leaving Hodgy in limbo. A fit Mika Vukona could log significant minutes on Johnson, but as it stands the Bullets will need their seven-footer defending intelligently against his former running mate and exploiting him at the other end.

The quotes

It’s no surprise the quotes were pretty similar in the Brisbane and Adelaide camps after they lost by a combined 42 points last weekend, giving up 215 points between them.

“When it came down to it we just didn’t execute well enough defensively. We gave them a lot of wide-open looks, they got a lot of easy stuff to get them going,” Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson said.

Playing against a Phoenix team who spread the floor well, the previously undefeated Bullets just didn’t find a way to stop the flow, with SE Melbourne regularly putting John Roberson’s defender in help positions off the ball and then capitalising on the missing rotations.

“We ended up often in scramble situations, there was a bit of a lack of talk at times, bit of confusion, we ended up giving up too many open looks,” coach Andrej Lemanis said.

“We’ll have a look at some of those Roberson ones … but it’s more than ones off defensive transition breakdowns, lack of communication and Stephens shooting a wide-open three in corner on a breakdown – they're the ones you get grumpy about.”

Adelaide coach Joey Wright echoed Lemanis’ thoughts, as he rarely saw his team on the same page defensively right from tip-off, something accentuated by Eric Griffin’s foul trouble.

“I thought we gave them real easy looks right at the beginning, gave them a rhythm, kind of got them in the flow and we were playing catch-up from the beginning,” he said.

“I thought we defended decently at times, but just not enough, not consistently enough, we didn’t get enough consistent stops.”

For Brisbane, their inability to consistently handle the John Roberson ball screen is an issue that needs to be fixed, given Jerome Randle will have the ball in his hands, and get picks on demand, to try and make something happen.

“To have someone to be able to go get a bucket when you need a bucket that makes it easier for me,” coach Wright said.

“If we run any set, Jerome’s going to have three or four people looking at him so that leaves other guys open.”

One of those guys is often Daniel Johnson, who doesn’t need much of an opening, especially against Brisbane, against whom he averaged 20 points, 7.8 boards and 3 assists last season.

Coach Wright knows the Randle-Johnson combination is good to go, now he just needs to get the rest of his new-look line-up on-board with their returning import.

“I thought the way DJ played tonight was a lot to do with having Jerome being on the court. They played a lot of two-man game between the two, they’ve got to really respect both of them,” Wright said.

“As far as me and him and the staff, we've got it figured out, it’s just the new guys who haven't played with (Jerome) before, they’ve got to understand how he plays and we’ll go from there.”


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