Will Adelaide win NBA now? Kings import is legit, Cats’ bite back, Cairns not bad



When it comes to NBA expansion, forget about Seattle and Las Vegas, the clear option is Adelaide.

Nobody should be surprised by the 36ers, or any team for that matter, taking it to the NBA teams in pre-season and scoring the occasional upset.

The way in which they did it was extraordinary – the NBL tourists shot 24 from 43 at a whopping 55.8% from three against the Suns in Phoenix. They were in the collective zone with imports Craig Randall II (nine of 17) and Robert Franks (six of 10) bombing from well beyond the exended NBA three-point line.

Melbourne United nearly knocked over OKC in 2017 during an NBA pre-season clash, beaten by a point when Josh Boone’s potential game winner was blocked by Thunder forward Josh Huestis.

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Adelaide coincidentally take on Oklahoma City on Friday (11am AEDT) in the second fixture of their US pre-season jaunt before returning to NBL action next week.   

The Sixers, after three straight seventh-placed finishes, should be definite playoff contenders this season – hopefully the experience of NBA pre-season will outweigh the travel miles they log leading into their first clash at home against Tassie next Thursday.

Craig Randall II of the Adelaide 36ers.

Craig Randall II of the Adelaide 36ers dribbles around Damion Lee of the Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Here’s all the talking points for this weekend’s Round 2 fixtures.

Thursday

Illawarra Hawks vs South East Melbourne Phoenix: Thursday, 7.30pm AEDT at WIN Entertainment Centre

Hawks import Justin Robinson is out with a knee injury. He and backcourt comrade Tyler Harvey had a rough shooting night in last week’s home loss  to Sydney, shooting a collective 11/39 from the field with Illawarra relying on a career night of 19 from Lachlan Dent and a bonus 14 from defensive stopper Wani Swaka Lo Buluk to keep in the contest. 

The Phoenix also need more from their big names after Kyle Adnam rescued them with 30 in the season-opening 84-79 win over Tasmania. Chinese centre Zhou Qi is expected to return earlier than initially expected, potentially for next week’s clash with the Breakers.

Friday

NZ Breakers vs Tasmania JackJumpers, 5.30pm AEDT at Spark Arena

The Breakers are back in Auckland at last for their first game on their home floor in 18 months. Derek Pardon and Barry Brown jnr were impressive with 23 apiece in the narrow first-up loss to Melbourne but star import Jarrell Brantly struggled with six points, five boards and three turnovers in 23 minutes.

Tassie shouldn’t have had too much cause for concern after losing to the Phoenix in Melbourne but their defence was listless against the Taipans in Hobart on Monday – the only team to play twice in Round 1 went 0-2.

Sydney Kings vs Brisbane Bullets, 7.30pm AEDT at Qudos Bank Arena

Derrick Walton jnr was a class above at the WEC last weekend, toying with the Hawks defenders with his lightning first step, elite passing and silky shooting combining for 32 points and eight assists in 31 minutes. He good. He very good.

No need for Brisbane to panic after losing a low-scoring match in Perth to start the season – plenty of very good teams have done that over the past four decades. Aron Baynes looks like he’s lost a bit of that muscle bulk over the past year while he has been getting over his neck injury but he will quickly find his groove.

Saturday

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs Cairns Taipans: 5.30pm AEDT at John Cain Arena

The best aspect of Cairns’ emphatic victory in Hobart on Monday was Tahjere McCall didn’t have to do it all with DJ Hogg, Majok Deng, Keanu Pinder and Bul Kuol stepping up. Their touch passing was brilliant – one game is a rather small sample size but if they keep this up they will rise up the ladder after ninth-placed finishes the past two seasons.

Perth Wildcats vs Illawarra Hawks: 8pm AEDT at RAC Arena

Bryce Cotton was yet again the star last week but Luke Travers, despite only scoring nine points, dished out seven assists and added three rebounds in his 23 minutes, a plus 18 when he was on the floor in the win over Brisbane. Illawarra have a stanky record in Perth. Don’t put any money on the Hawks to win this one, particularly as they’ll be backing up from Thursday night in Wollongong.

Sunday

Tasmania JackJumpers vs Brisbane Bullets: 2pm AEDT at MyState Bank Arena

They both could be going into this one winless after five games between them – the early-season pressure meter will be high in Hobart.

Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings: 5.30pm AEDT at John Cain Arena

Xavier Rathan-Mayes could be one of the best low-key signings of the off-season. The former Hawks import poured in 33 points, five rebounds and nine assists, hitting six of 11 threes and Melbourne probably wouldnt have broken the Breakers in overtime without his contributions. 

Monday

Cairns Taipans vs Perth Wildcats: 7.30pm AEDT at Cairns Convention Centre

About time the Snakes returned to the tropics after starting the season in Hobart and Melbourne. A win over the Wildcats would prove their JackJumpers victory was not a flash in the pan.

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