In their defence, the Breakers did play some defence on Sunday. For the first time all season they kept a team under 80 points, giving the Sydney Kings some real hiccups as everybody not named Andrew Bogut shot 18 of 52 for 34.6% from the field. And in response to the last thing I wrote about them they also limited their fouling pretty drastically, even shooting more free throws than their opponents for once, and that not coincidentally freed up Shawn Long to be amazing… until he eventually still got in foul trouble. But somehow they still lost.
They lost 71-70, shooting 36.5% from the field and they lost, almost incomprehensibly, with Corey Webster and Patrick Richard scoring a combined total of… zero points. Yeah. No kidding. The two most natural scorers on the team and they shot 0/15 between them. It’s hard to even make sense of that. Chuck in that Shea Ili also struggled immensely on the offensive end with 1/6 shooting for 2 points, spending most of the crunch time bencher for Jarrad Weeks (who was really good) and that was always going to mean trouble. What team out there can handle 1/21 shooting from three of their six top dudes in the rotation?
Not this team, that’s for sure. Having given up at least 91 points in their previous four games, the defensive end was the one which needed most of the focus during the international break and it looked like Kevin Braswell had worked some magic there in that regard. But for some reason it came at the complete expense of offensive fluency. If you’d said the Breakers would keep Sydney to 71 points before that game then you’d be fair enough in suggesting they must’ve won by twenty. Instead they lost. It was a grind most of the way with Webster and Richard scoreless but things came to a boil in the third quarter when as a team they scored just six points. Outscored by 15 in the frame and that’ll do ya.
They almost came back, to be fair. Weeks and Abercrombie made some shots and the Breakers, who had scored 41 points in 30 minutes, went on ahead and bagged 29 in the fourth to make it frisky. But they ran out of time to get that last shot up. Their rare lack of foul trouble turned into an ironic curse in the end as they had to jab at a couple dudes to get into the bonus when they needed to and it burnt too much clock, even with Jerome Randle gifting the tiniest of opportunities by stepping out with 2.4 secs remaining. That meant a fifth defeat in a row for the Breakers and a very demoralising one at that.
Like, they’d had that whole international break to prepare for this one. It makes sense that they wouldn’t have an answer to Andrew Bogut since that was a deliberate sacrifice when putting this team together. Shawn Long can’t compete with seven feet. That’s not what he’s there to do. But the team did enough around Bogut to get this win… they just couldn’t make their shots. Corey Webster didn’t play with the Tall Blacks, remember. He sat it out for some much deserved rest. Unfortunately he then came out looking rusty. Same with Richard, he wasn’t away on international duty. Same deal with Armani Moore and he only took four shots all game. Meanwhile Tai Wesley and Tom Abercrombie did play for their countries and they were the two who carried the offence for most of the afternoon.
It’s like a leaky boat, you fix one breach and another one pops up. The Breakers have shown all the ingredients of being a decent team, they just haven’t done it all together yet. The better their offence got, the worse their defence – which sorta makes sense given they’re designed to play fast and the faster they play, the more possessions they’re giving their oppo to hit back. Which depends on making some bloody shots if they’re going to win games, more shots than their opponents. Quite surprisingly the Breakers are only the second worst rebounding team (shot Brisbane!) but that’s still four fewer boards than Perth or Adelaide per game which is also cutting into possessions. Which is why this team has to make more bloody shots. Simple game when you put it that way, aye?
But this season is far from over, we’re only 12 games in after all. The NBL is clearly shaping up its hierarchies now but behind Perth, Melbourne and Sydney it’s pretty open and a good run of wins will get the Breakers back in contention. Just gotta, you know, get that run of wins. Because most of these games have been close, is the thing. This current losing streak has had three games within five points, another within seven and then a 13-point loss away in Sydney.
The good news for the Breakers (and us beleaguered fans) is that it gets easier. The Breaks have already played Perth and Sydney three times each and a quick geeze at the championship ladders and… oh what do you know, both those teams are in the top three. Next up is Cairns who are 1-10 and propping up the rest of them from the bottom of that ladder. Then it’s Illawarra and a couple against Adelaide, which means the next four games are all against the other three teams with losing records currently. Win the lot of them and it’s back to even stevens.
MVP Points vs Sydney
3 – Jarrad Weeks
2 – Tom Abercrombie
1 – Tai Wesley
Season MVP Standings
19 – Tai Wesley
11 – Shawn Long
10 – Corey Webster
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