If a road team is to win in this NBL grand final series it appears Sunday’s Game 4 is the chance for the Perth Wildcats, but Melbourne United is confident of bouncing back without some of the obstacles they feel come in Perth.
The Sydney Kings head into ‘The Jungle’ tonight where the Wildcats will undoubtedly welcome them with fun and games.
But Perth has been far from a paradise city for the Kings, who’ve been hit by the so-called shooters’ curse inside the Wildcats’ arena like everyone else.
Last time the two clubs met there, Perth mauled the Sydneysiders 83-56.
In fact, Sydney hasn’t won on the west coast since early 2008, according to NBL.com.au.
This will be on the minds of Shane Heal’s Kings, despite the fact most of the current group had nothing to do with that dry spell.
It’s a new reign for the Purple and Gold, and while every man and his, er, cat, has Perth winning this game, I’m not so sure.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Sydney is bigger
Size doesn’t always matter, especially if you’re royalty and can trade on social status alone. Unfortunately Sydney’s basketball royals haven’t ruled of late, though if their first game is anything to go by, big things are in store.
The Kings have a few large units to be sure, including AJ Ogilvy, who dominated the interior against Melbourne last Sunday with a double-double.
Tom Garlepp and Brad Hill are no small tasks either.
Without Matt Knight in Perth’s line-up and the less experienced Tom Jervis having to fill the void, I can’t see how the Cats compete on the boards.
2. More versatile scoring
I realise everyone is taken by James Ennis. The star contractor from the Miami Heat could be the most exciting player the league has seen in years.
But as high as Ennis soars, as smoothly as he dribbles and as deftly as he hits the three, he can’t do it alone. And that goes doubly if he gets into foul trouble again.
Now I’m not saying Perth is short on scoring because if you’ve seen Shawn Redhage, then you know the Wildcat forward is not only a versatile scorer but a poised one. He showed that last week when he coolly dispatched Adelaide in the final minute.
Yet the Kings boast just the artillery to hush 10,000 fans inside the haze of Perth’s home gym, including Ogilvy’s inside hook, Jesse Sanders’ knifing drives and a lively three ball from veteran James Harvey. Harvey had 19 points in just over 19 minutes against the Tigers.
If all else fails, Sydney’s Harlequins can single-handedly ratchet up the score in any contest. I hope there’s room on the plane.
3. Deeper bench
When one of your best attacking players comes off the bench, your second five can quickly look better.
Ben Madgen is one of the NBL’s great shooters when he heats up and I expect him to step onto the floor simmering Friday night.
Throw in Hill and Harvey and Perth’s back-ups will be dreaming about a catnap come the second quarter.