It’s been a strange old season for the Breakers, at times they’ve looked magical and at others they’ve looked atrocious and at all times they’ve looked inconsistent. A bit like the NBL as a whole, really. From the start Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have looked like the three standouts with the rest of the league battling for fourth but none of that top trio have been able to pull away from each other and none of the rest of them are looking particularly easy to beat – Cairns are bottom of the ladder having lost 14 games in a row earlier on but even they’ve gone 2-2 since the start of the new year.
The Breakers are chilling in ninth on those pesky standings. Ninth out of ten with an 8-10 record and ten games remaining to be played over the final month of the regular stuff – double headers every week. Brisbane are fourth with an 11-9 record, three wins ahead with two additional games having been played. Sorta makes you wonder then: what are the chances?
The good thing with having ten games to go is that it’s still all in the Breaks own hands. Don’t have to worry about other results going their way unless they can’t take care of results themselves first. Ten more games means a max total of 18-10 and that’d cruise into the playoffs – with Sydney top with 13 wins as it stands it might even be sweet for first place. Obviously that’s unlikely for NZB given their own ups and downs but now would be as good a time as any to level out at that potential they’ve so often teased at.
Those remaining games go like this:
R14 – Illawarra (A) & Cairns (A)
R15 – Cairns (H) & Brisbane (H)
R16 – Melbourne (H) & Melbourne (A)
R17 – Adelaide (H) & Illawarra (A)
R18 – Illawarra (H) & Brisbane (A)
Five remaining games are at home and five are away, with three of those homers at Spark Arena and the other two in New Plymouth (R15 vs CNS) and Wellington (R18 vs ADL). One blatantly ruthless week in there with the double-header against Melbourne although at least the home game is first, meaning United have gotta make two international flights in a couple days while the Breaks, with a pair of home games prior to that (granted one’s in New Plymouth), will only have to properly travel once in a couple weeks (and then back again, but that’s after the game).
There is a lot of grind to playing back to back every remaining weekend, but then the momentum of winning carries you a long way and if they don’t get that momentum then it ain’t gonna matter anyway. And what’ll offer the most positivity and optimism from all this is a look at that remaining schedule.
The Breakers are done with Sydney and Perth, the two teams that account for seven of their ten defeats. Like, it doesn’t have to be put into astrophysics terms or anything. The Breaks are 1-7 against Perth and Sydney and 7-3 against everybody else. If they can keep up that pattern over the next month and go 7-3 across the rest of it then 15 wins is probably gonna push you over. It sure was last season when the Breaks had that exact record and finished fourth. While the season before the Breakers went 14-14 and ended one game out of the postseason behind the 15-13 Hawks. You have to go back to the 2011-12 term to find a team that missed out on the semis with a winning record. Evens and you’re cutting it pretty fine but a winning mark and you should be good… although no guarantees when the ladder is as close as it currently is.
That oughta ease a few minds, at least. S’pose the next step is actually winning those games and that’s always easier said than done. Two of the next three are against the Cairns Taipans, who are finding some form at a niggly time… but also lost by 23 and 11 points in the two previous games against the Breakers.
Corey Webster scored 25 points in the first of those and it’d be bloody useful if he could recapture a bit of that. A revitalised Corey Webster could be the energy force that takes this team over the top – in the last nine games he’s averaging 6.3 points on 29.1% shooting from the field and 24.3% from deep. Prior to the season it felt like he was perfectly primed for an MVP kinda run… but all that basketball in the last two years has caught up to him. Yet sometimes all it takes is for one hot minute of shooting and we’re away laughing. His three top scoring game of the season have come against Melbourne, Cairns and Brisbane so the coast is clear.
Also worth a shout is old mate Armani Moore, who is sometimes the forgotten man in this team but is actually shooting the best mark from three-point range of any of the averaging more than two per game… 38.2%. Moore has missed four games with injury and he’s not always been the biggest factor when he’s been available either, only five times playing more than twenty minutes. And when he makes a triple the team are 4-3 with two of those defeats being against Perth and Sydney so they shouldn’t even count because the Breakers always lose to those jokers (except the one win against Perth recently – the Wildcats have fallen off a cliff offensively lately, the fixture list really wasn’t very generous to NZB in that regard).
There’s plenty else but with Shawn Long doing what he’s doing, and with the schedule taking a turn for the not-so-suffocating… get those two fellas knocking them down and the semis are right there for the taking.
Breakers at Sydney MVP Points
3 – Shawn Long
2 – Tai Wesley
1 – Jarrad Weeks
Overall MVP Standings
26 – Tai Wesley
26 – Shawn Long
12 – Patrick Richard
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