Perth played the last game of the regular season without star imports Bryce Cotton and Terrico White.
Cotton looks good for finals, White not a sure thing.
Bryce Cotton will be fit for Game 1 of the Perth Wildcats’ semi-final series against the Cairns Taipans, but Terrico White is no certainty to play.
White, last year’s NBL final MVP, missed Saturday night’s regular season-ending 15-point win over the Adelaide 36ers due to a bruised knee he picked up a week earlier in the Cats’ win over the Brisbane Bullets.
Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said the week’s break before the start of the playoffs due to FIBA scheduling, came a good time for his imports.
“If today was a final, (White) couldn’t play,” Gleeson said.
“He couldn’t practice with us.
“(He and Lamar) Patterson banged knees. It was lucky he finished the game against Brisbane.
“He’s tough, we know what he did last year, with his wrist. As soon as the season was over, he had surgery, two days after he’s the finals MVP.
“He can play with injuries, but we want to make sure he’s right for the finals.”
White also missed the 29 January game against Melbourne United, so when he takes the court against the Taipans on 28 February for the first game of the best-of-three semi-finals series, he will have played only two games in 33 days.
Cotton also missed the game against the 36ers because of knee soreness, but could have played if the game had significance.
He will not have played a game in 19 days when he takes the court against Cairns.
But Gleeson is confident the extended break will do him and White good.
“Bryce will beokay,” he said. “He has been playing through a lot lately and it was a chance to rest him up to make sure he is cherry-ripe for the finals.
“This FIBA break is really good for us, to get them into shape and get some minutes into the them on the court before the first game.”
Perth finished the season in second spot on the ladder, with 19 wins, behind the Sydney Kings (20).
It is the Wildcats’ best return since their 21-game winning season in 2013-14, when they went on the win the championship.
With six wins from their past seven games and since Miles Plumlee joined the team, Gleeson is happy with the momentum they take into the playoffs.
“You want momentum going into the finals,” he said.
“In championships we’ve won in the past, we’ve gone through the last weekend playing great basketball.
“The times we have struggled, we didn’t finish the season well and got put out straight away.
“We’ve had four playoff-type games, tough. and that’s what you want. I couldn’t draw it up any better.”