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Illawarra Hawks vs Perth Wildcats
2016/17 NBL grand final Game 2, 1 March 2017
|WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, NSW|
|Illawarra Hawks||Perth Wildcats|
A dominant second half from the Perth Wildcats has given them an important road win in the NBL grand final series to move ahead 2-0 against the Illawarra Hawks, giving them a chance to wrap it up in straight sets at home on Sunday.
Illawarra Hawks 77
Perth Wildcats 89
It might as well be a must-win game for the Illawarra Hawks when they host the all-conquering Perth Wildcats in Game 2 of the NBL grand final series. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the match from 7:30pm (AEDT).
After the closest season in history, where the Wildcats went down to the last seconds of the season to qualify for their 31st finals series in a row, they were the first team through to the grand finals with a thumping straight sets win over the Cairns Taipans in the semis.
The Hawks had to do things the hard way though, losing the first game against minor premiers the Adelaide 36ers before bouncing back to win both Game 2 and 3.
A third versus fourth grand final series just about sums up the season perfectly, and the Wildcats were dominant in the first game to hole home court advantage.
While the series against the Taipans saw the Wildcats return to form, their drubbing of the Hawks in Game 1 was probably their best basketball for a couple of months.
They locked it down on defence, built a lead early in the game and never looked back before running away down the stretch. After struggling through the back end of the season, Casey Prather and Matty Knight are back to their best, with Bryce Cotton still firing away from behind the arc.
The Hawks were powerless to stop them in Game 1, but more worryingly was that Rotnei Clarke looked out of sorts both shooting and trying to run the offence. Simply put, if he doesn’t fire the Wildcats juggernaut rolls over them.
Illawarra do need more than just Clarke though – Mitch Norton has been pivotal to the club becoming the second best offence in the league this year, while AJ Ogilvy is key in the paint, but has had an up and down season.
Rob Beveridge also has his work cut out at the defensive end, with the zone defence they used in Game 1 doing little to slow down the Prather and Cotton duo. If they can’t adjust, this game will be over before it begins.
Despite the obvious problems the Hawks have in this series, at home, not on the toughest road trip in the league, they should do what they have done earlier in the season and pick up the win against Perth to ensure the series will at least go to four games.
Hawks by 3.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Game 2 in the NBL grand final series from 7:30pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to drop a comment below.