Melbourne Tigers – Game On?
The Melbourne Tigers are now in third place on the NBL ladder after a successful weekend of winning basketball. The Tigers took care of the injury-depleted Wollongong Hawks (77-70) on Friday night and then followed up with a strong victory over the Adelaide 36ers (84-71) on Sunday afternoon.
These two wins have now propelled Melbourne deep into the playoff conversation, a possibility we discussed back in early January.
Here are some points of interest from the Melbourne Tigers 2-0 weekend road trip:
- Jonny Flynn averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 assists per game.
- The Tigers were called for more fouls in both games.
- This was Melbourne’s third straight win over Adelaide this season. (by an average of 16.6 points per game)
- Seth Scott averaged 13.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.
While these stats are fun, I actually expected to see some more definitive ‘wins’ in certain stat categories such as rebounding, turnovers, field goal percentage and the like. I felt that such a great weekend would yield a lop-sided two game result somewhere on the box scores.
As it turns out while winning both games was great for Melbourne, it’s hard to pinpoint a particular area of the game where the Tigers excelled in both games.
- Rebounding: Out-rebounded by Wollongong 37-34 and then held a 35-31 edge over Adelaide.
- Turnovers: Won the turnover race 8 to 12 in Wollongong, then lost 17-15 in Adelaide.
- Assists: Edged Wollongong 15 to 14, then tied Adelaide with 14 a piece.
- Points in the Paint: Lost to Wollongong 26-20 before outscoring Adelaide 36-28.
Okay, you get the picture. The point to be made here is that the Tigers won both of these games in completely different fashions. Does this speak to their diversity? Or are they simply an unpredictable team that got lucky?
You all know what this blogger hopes to be true and looking at this team finally starting to establish a solid rotation/pecking order is pleasing. Liam Rush was dangerous when given extended minutes against the Sixers, proving again why he can be so valuable to a potential playoff run.
Additionally, getting Seth Scott the ball in the post is essential to the team’s success. Scott absolutely must get opportunities to score for Melbourne to be competitive and his ability to attack from either inside or outside is huge for the Tigers.
The big test comes this weekend when Melbourne hosts the 15-5 (and always dangerous) Perth Wildcats. The Tigers have not beaten Perth this season and have lost by an average of 12 points in their two meetings. Both games saw Melbourne fail miserably in the fourth quarter after being within striking distance at the final break.
A home win this weekend against a Perth team that is practically a dual-favourite for the NBL title may be the final confidence boost required to propel these Tigers into a deep playoff run. It’s a big ask with the varying styles that have been on display over the past three weeks but rest assured, hoops fans are starting to take this team very seriously.
Melbourne Tigers… game on!