NBL Grand Final Game 2: Illawarra Hawks vs. Perth Wildcats
MATCH UP STATS
NBL Grand Final Game 2: Illawarra Hawks vs. Perth Wildcats
Season record:Illawarra Hawks: 15-13Perth Wildcats: 15-13
Road to NBL GF:Illawarra Hawks: Defeated Adelaide 36ers 2-1Perth Wildcats: Defeated Cairns Tapains 2-0
Line betting:Illawarra Hawks: -1.5 ($1.95 with WilliamHill.com.au)Perth Wildcats: +1.5 ($1.95 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Series betting:Illawarra Hawks: $3.40 with Sportsbet.com.auPerth Wildcats: $1.25 with Sportsbet.com.au
Game 2, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 7:30pm AEDT, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, New South Wales, watch on Fox Sports
Best of five series:
Game 1: Perth Wildcats defeated Illawarra Hawks 89-77
Game 3: Sunday, March 5, 2017, 3pm AEDT, Perth Arena, Perth, Western Australia, watch on Fox Sports
Game 4 (if required): Friday, March 10, 2017, 7:30pm AEDT, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, New South Wales, watch on Fox Sports
Game 5 (if required): Sunday, March 12, 2017, 7pm AEDT, Perth Arena, Perth, Western Australia, watch on Fox Sports
Perth Wildcats lead the 2017 NBL Grand Final series 1-0
THE Illawarra Hawks have been here before.
Without home court advantage in their NBL semi final series against the Adelaide 36ers, the Hawks were spanked in the opener 93-78, but fought back from 1-0 down to win their way through to a 2017 NBL Grand Final date with the Perth Wildcats.
And, in a very similar result – and similar circumstances – the Hawks find themselves down 1-0 again, after dropping the series opener in Perth last night, 89-77.
In game one against the Sixers, the Hawks were absolute smoked on the glass, 56 to 40.
And it was, again, the rebound differential that proved far too difficult to overcome, with the Wildcats holding a 40 to 29 advantage on the boards, including a remarkable 17 to 3 differential on the offensive glass.
That led to a mountain of second chance points for the Wildcats, which made it impossible for the Hawks to hang with them.
Import Casey Prather continued his monster finish to the season, willing the Wildcats home with a game high 22 points, laced with six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Prather was in absolutely everything, but he got plenty of help from big man Matthew Knight.
Knight, who smacked Cairns Taipans point guard Travis Trice with the ball in game two of their semi final series, was suspended by the NBL’s games review panel for two matches.
But, in a bizarre move by the panel, was allowed to play if he apologised to the import for his misdemeanour and paid a $1000 fine.
The NBL clearly did not want to rob the finals series of a marquee big man and so it was that he would make his grovelling apology, play his piddly fine and then dominate with 18 points and 11 rebounds, adding three assists and two steals to his double double.
Perth’s other import, scoring machine Bryce Cotton, matched Knight’s output with 18 points, six boards and four assists.
Teams generally win games when they sport the top three scorers and have a rebound differential of 11.
The Hawks, as they have tended to do all season, had an even spread of scorers, Cody Ellis leading the way with 12, followed by three others with 11.
It was always going to be tough without import Marvelle Harris, who returned to the USA for personal reasons right before the series, but coach Rob Beveridge said regardless of who was on the floor, his team was “soft”.
“We’re pretty beat up from playing that Adelaide series. We’ve got a few sore bodies out there,” Beveridge said.
“Yep, our preparation was very poor. But that’s an excuse, and we want to get rid of all of that rubbish.”
It’s hopes Harris will be back for game two of the series, but not guaranteed.
But Perth coach Trevor Gleeson is taking nothing for granted.
“Wollongong always want to play the underdog – it’s poor us kind of stuff,” Gleeson said.
“They were down a man. Harris will come back and play.
“They play so hard and strong. We have the utmost respect for them.
“If you expect the same, you’re a fool. So we expect a lot of things to change.
“You always expect the unexpected.”
Game result: Illawarra Hawks to win ($1.78 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Line betting: Illawarra Hawks -1.5 ($1.95 with Sportsbet.com.au)
We never thought the Hawks would be able to knock over the Sixers after going 1-0 down against the top side, but we are not making the same mistake again. In game two of that series, they evened up the rebound count and came away with a 100-94 win, indicating that, while home court helps, the Hawks are capable on the glass when they put the effort in. We would expect that effort to come after a rocket from Beveridge and the fact they will want to put their best foot forward in front of a rabid home court crowd. There is some fear that the Hawks may have played their grand final series in the semi, but that should be out the window, given that the Hawks and Wildcats sport identical season records at 15-13 and the season series is squared off at 2 all between the two clubs. We can genuinely see this series going to five games and the Hawks can take a step in the right direction by evening it up at home in this one. With the line at just the 1.5 points, we are expecting the home court advantage to swing things their way and they should cover it by at least a few points. Sixth man of the year Rotnei Clarke went a little missing, scoring just 11 points and sporting a plus/minus of -15 and we expect a bounce back from him to prove the different in game two.
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