If you missed the Wildcats trounce the Taipans, don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a quick recap of what you missed from a super impressive Perth Wildcats performance.
Perth showed their hand early by attacking Nate Jawai in the pick n roll. He had no chance defending the Bryce Cotton on-ball screen action – leading to wide open 3-pointers and easy looks – which Cotton exploited on the way to 10 first quarter points.
— NBL (@NBL) February 17, 2017
That helped the ‘Cats to race out to a 31-21 lead at quarter time.
In the 2nd term, Cairns went to their killer bench unit, and we’re abe to get back into the contest. However, Coach Fearne pulled that lineup soon after and we hardly saw it again.
Did you know the @CairnsTaipans 2nd unit were, stats wise, the most effective 5️⃣ in the NBL this regular season?
— NBL (@NBL) February 16, 2017
From there Perth re-took control of the game. They were able to get Matty Knight involved, who started to punish the Taipans smaller defenders in the post. This lead to a strong first half finish for the Wildcats – going into the break with an 11 point advantage.
With both sets of starters back on the court to start the 3rd term, Perth threatened to blow the contest apart – extending their halftime lead to a 20 point margin (61-41). Cairns then fired back – going on a 13-0 run – to cut the deficit to 7.
The Wildcats withstood that furious Cairns onslaught and went on to win the quarter. Thanks largely to reverting back to what worked – Bryce Cotton pick n rolls – which the Taipans still hadn’t figured out a way to stop.
From there, they never looked back.
Perth kept the Taipans at arms length in the 4th qtr, before blowing it out late, finishing with an emphatic 91-69 victory.
Cotton and Casey Prather led the way with efficient scoring: Casey finished with 22 points from 15 shots, while Bryce poured in a mammoth 34 from just 21 shots.
That was backed up by great team defense. Besides their mini 3rd quarter flurry, the Taipans offense wasn’t allowed to settle.
Cotton murdered Travis Trice. Whether it was out of on-ball screens, or one-on-one, Trice had no answers stopping the league’s top scorer. The Cairns coaching staff stuck with the matchup for the majority of the contest – good chance someone else gets a crack in Game Two.
Knight started to resemble the Matty we remember, having his way in the paint. That’s the way you beat smaller lineups – make them pay down-low and on the boards.
Attacking Jawai – We identified that as a possible weakness for the Taipans before the series. The ‘Cats went at big Nate at every opportunity tonight, which resulted in early foul trouble for the giant human. Perth also kept him off the glass, with Jawai unable to grab an offensive rebounds in the game.
Perth won the rebound (34-33) and turnover count (15-10) while shooting at a better clip (46% – 40%) – that’s how you win ball games.
From what the Wildcats have shown over the past month of basketball, it’s hard to argue against them being the better team. In fact, you could now make a strong case that they’re the best team in the league!
But let’s not write off the Taipans just yet. They’re just one, lucky, win away from being favourites again in the series.
Get hot from the 3-point line, gets some calls to go their way and they can pinch one in the Jungle.
However, if the ‘Cats can close out the series, they’re going to be difficult to beat in a best of five-game Grand Final.
Get the job done at home, save yourself a trip back to Cairns, and an 8th Championship is well within reach.