Adelaide 36ers vs. Illawarra Hawks
MATCH UP STATS
Adelaide 36ers vs. Illawarra Hawks
Season record:Adelaide 36ers : 17-11Illawarra Hawks: 15-13
Last 5 matchesAdelaide 36ers : LWLLLIllawarra Hawks: WLWLW
Adelaide 36ers vs. Illawarra Hawks, Thursday 7.35pm, February 23 at Titanium Security Arena, Adelaide.
Game One: Adelaide 36ers 93 defeated Illawarra Hawks 78
Game Two: Illawarra Hawks 100 defeated Adelaide 36ers 94
Just who will join the Perth Wildcats in the 2017 NBL finals?
Will the top of the table Adelaide 36ers continue their remarkable run or will the Illawarra Hawks spoil the party and knock off the minor premiers to make it a third vs. fourth finals series?
An intriguing, record breaking season is so close to a stunning climax we can almost taste it, but , after the Perth Wildcats booked their spot in the NBL finals by knocking off the Cairns Taipans in straight sets, we need to find out whether the Sixers or the Hawks will be their challengers in a do or die semi final game three.
In game one of the series in Adelaide, the Sixers dismantled the Hawks by 15 points, 93-78, League MVP Jerome Randle lighting it up with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists, ably assisted by Nathan Sobey and Daniel Johnson, who both had 16, adding eight and seven boards respectively.
The Hawks actually led the game at the first change, but a disastrous second term made things hard and then they capitulated under the pressure in the last, despite Tim Coenraad’s blast from the past 26 off the bench, including five threes.
But only one starter, import Marvelle Harris, managed double figures and sixth man of the year Rotnei Clarke was held to just 10 off the bench.
The Sixers also hammered the Hawks on the glass, 56-40. You’re not going to win too many with margins like that.
It was a comprehensive win, but Game Two was a different story. The Hawks were the only team the Sixers could not get past on the road this season and that remained true, when Illawarra held them off for a 100-94 win to square the ledger in the best of three series.
The bench sparked the Hawks, with Coenraad leading the way again with 17 points, complemented by Clarke’s 15 and Rhys Martin’s 10.
In fact, the Hawks had 11 players make buckets in the game, with starter Mitch Norton dropping 17 and Nick Kay adding 12.
Centre AJ Ogilvy was an absolute beast for the Hawks, tearing down 11 boards to go with nine points, four assists and four blocks in a best on court performance.
Randle was again prolific for the Sixers, leading the way with 20 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds, but he shot just 34 per cent from the field as the Hawks did a much better job of containing the little maestro.
He got help from Johnson again who had 17 points, while Eric Jacobsen (12) and Anthony Drmic (10) added punch off the bench.
But it wasn’t enough as the Hawks reduced the rebounding margin to just two and came away with victory.
There is going to be so much feeling in this one.
Randle stoked the fire by saying the Hawks were a “dirty” team early in the series and the Sixers captain Mitch Creek piled it on by backing the claims.
“I back Jerome 100 per cent,” Creek said.
“They’re a dirty bunch of players who can’t play at our level so their only chance is to try anything but basketball.
“We’re a far superior team as individuals and as a team so they have to resort to playing dirty.”
That means that if this one gets a little ugly, the Hawks are probably going to try and live up to the claims.
Let’s hope so. It’s going to be a doozy.
Game result: Adelaide 36ers to win ($1.48 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Line betting: Adelaide 36ers -4.5 ($1.95 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Total game score: Over 183.5 ($1.94 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Big win, little win: Adelaide 36ers 11+ ($2.95 with Sportsbet.com.au)
The big come down. Yes, we know the Sixers haven’t exactly had the best form late in the season, but we think this is where it all comes together. And they are going to dismantle the Hawks. It’s at home, in front of a rabid home crowd and this is the time for the league MVP to stand up and be counted and lead that diverse, talented line up to a chance at reaching the NBL’s promised land. The means streets of Chicago have prepared Randle for dogfights like this and, given that the Hawks threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Sixers to win game two on the home floor, it will be very tough for them to replicate that form on the road. Game one was a slaughter and we don’t expect anything less in this game. We like the Sixers at the line, with the $1.95 great odds, given they are only rated $1.48 to win, and the double digit margin looks tantalising at nearly three to one. We’d love the cinderella story of the Hawks making it against the Wildcats, but we just can’t see it happening. The Sixers beat the Wildcats in three of four meetings this season and would go in as warm favourites, should they make it past the Hawks on Thursday.
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