The Perth Wildcats have started the season with two wins from two games, but it could easily have been two losses instead. In both games this season, against Adelaide in the first and New Zealand in the second, the Wildcats came away with a win after playing a horrible first half of basketball.
Being able to come from behind and win close games is a quality trait to have but it’s best not to get in those situations in the first place. Perth plays the Townsville Crocodile on Friday night in the Jungle, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll be trailing at halftime in that game.
The Crocs, fresh off a 31 point drubbing by an all-conquering Melbourne United team, shouldn’t pose the Wildcats any problems. It’s a great opportunity for the Perth Wildcats to notch another win before the schedule starts to get tough.
What to expect from the Crocodiles
Townsville’s two Americans – last season’s MVP, Brian Conklin, and the tank disguised as a basketballer, Jordair Jett – lead the way.
Conklin is a prolific scorer, using an outstanding post game to pile up points. He averaged 19 points per game in his MVP season, although the start of this campaign hasn’t been as successful, Conkin’s still a tough cover for most defenders in the league.
Jordair Jett had a slow start to his NBL career, but the point guard has improved with every outing. Jett, built like a linebacker, uses his strength to bulldoze his way to the rim. The problem for Jett is he isn’t the quickest guard around and lacks a consistent outside shot.
It looked like Jett hurt his leg in the loss to United – he was able to finish off the game but did so gingerly. There’s a good chance he misses the trip to Perth.
Townsville has players who can knock down 3-pointers, but they lack the playmaking ability to create open shots. Clint Steindl has shown glimpses but not on a consistent basis. If Jordair Jett doesn’t suit up on Friday night, the Crocs are going to have real issues creating offense.
Stopping The Crocs And Finding Rhythm On Offense
The Wildcats have a great defensive big man in Matt Knight, who should be able to limit the effectiveness of Brian Conklin. And with Nate Jawai playing alongside Knight, points in the paint will be hard to come by for the Crocs.
Stopping Townsville getting open looks at the 3-point line is a priority for the Wildcats. As mentioned earlier, this young Crocodile side can hit those shots but against Perth that won’t be easy; with Casey Prather and Damian Martin – expected to return from injury – the ‘Cats have arguably the best defensive backcourt in the league.
As expected, adding Nate Jawai and Casey Prather into the Perth Wildcats offense hasn’t been easy. Against the 36ers, Jawai looked unstoppable in the short time he was on the court but followed that up with a horrible outing versus the Breakers. At this stage, we don’t know which Nate we’re going to get.
Prather did the opposite – poor first outing, much better the next. He’ll need to continue to be aggressive and use his superior athleticism to get to the rim. Prather still has to prove he can hit the outside shot if he wants to have a successful NBL career.
Win And Move On
If the Crocs were to win this game, it would be an unbelievable upset. Realistically, the Perth Wildcats are at least a 10 point better side. The poor Crocs battle hard but don’t have the players to compete with the better teams.
Winning this game shouldn’t be a problem for the ‘Cats but after Friday night the schedule becomes difficult. They’ll hardly have any time to recover, facing a very dangerous Illawarra Hawks team on Sunday afternoon. The contest against the Crocs is the start of a grueling stretch of four games in nine days.
The goal for Friday night; rest the players as much as possible, win the game easily and move on.