The NBL Final Series jumps back Perth on Friday night for Game 3. With the series poised at 1 game each, United can gain a huge advantage with an away win.
22:20 (AEDT) @ RAC Arena, Perth
Games 1 & 2 in this Final Series went pretty much as expected, each team taking a home victory. Game 1 in Perth saw a 3rd quarter explosion from the Wildcats take the game away from Melbourne. The game was poised for a snore fest at half time, with scores at 29-33, then the Cats remembered how to shoot. 31 points in 9 minutes and the Cats were in the box seat. With Bryce Cotton taken out offensively, Terrico White stepped up with 19 points including 50% from the perimeter. United’s big men were thoroughly unimpressive and the bridge was to far for Ware and Goulding.
In Game 2, United’s return to home court returned their mojo. Maybe it was sleeping in their own bed, but the second half was an annihilation. 50 – 33 points in the second half as both teams started bombing threes. 62 shots from outside the arc was always playing into the home teams hands with Golding and Ware always going to hurt you given enough opportunity. Most impressive for the home side was the response from their big men. Dominating the boards, with double the amount of offensive rebounds as the Cats, the number of second chances put backs was just too much for the visitors.
The Wildcats success has come from an ability to shutdown key playmakers, turn points in transition and dominate the paint. In Game 1, their defensive pressure messed United up and their turnovers blew out. A +13 point differential in points from turnovers was the difference on the night, whilst a staggering 8 blocks to 1 in the paint from Perth made things even harder for the reigning champs.
The quality of Bryce Cotton and Terrico White is known, but not enough credit goes to big man Angus Brandt. When he’s capable of playing big minutes, he continually puts up big numbers and controls the stripe. In Game 2, he was limited to 14 minutes and his opposition tall timber took over. If he can get more support from back up giant Tom Jervis, United will have issues.
United frustrate the team here at Palmerbet. They’re like the kid with all the talent who just can’t put it all together. At their best, they’ll tear apart any team and are the best team in the Asia Pacific region. At their worst, they’d lose to the Surrey Park Under 10’s. They need motivation. Will it come in this one? It would be a championship winning move, but like the proverbial box of chocolates, with United, you never know what you’re going to get.
Game 1 was a real disaster for the big men. Outscored by White, Kay and Brandt, Josh Boone, DJ Kennedy and Mitch McCarron didn’t look likely with a -25 point differential. They got plenty of looks, but the shooting %’s of Boone (28%) and Barlow (16%) wad a disaster, missing 10 shots from within 3 metres. In Game 2, the dominance of the restricted area was tougher to get into than a Sydney nightclub after 11. With 8 buckets to 3 under the ring, the Wildcats had to work too hard. It left too much to do for the outside team and highlighted Damian Martin’s shortcomings on offence.
Perth isn’t a great place to visit for basketball teams. 7 wins on the trot a testament to that. But United’s first game nerves will dissipate, their big men have shown they can recover and we’re concerned about Martin’s lack of scoring ability. The attractive odds for a United away win are also a strong incentive.