Nelson Giants looking to avoid series sweep in home NBL clash with Bay Hawks
It all depends on your perspective.
From the outside looking in, the Nelson Giants' clash with the Hawke's Bay Hawks at Nelson's Trafalgar Centre on Friday clearly isn't an attention-grabber in the overall context of this season's National Basketball League.
The now 3-10 Giants effectively appear out of the playoff race after last week's 76-71 home loss to the Supercity Rangers while the must-win 3-8 Hawks are a peripheral chance at best. But they're still a chance and after winning their previous two clashes against the Giants on their home court at Pettigrew Green Arena, they'll be attempting to complete the three-match series sweep in Nelson.
There are only five games left in the Giants' season, and while four of them are at home, two of them are against runaway series leaders the Wellington Saints who have yet to drop a game.
The Giants will also be without Australian point guard Kyle Adnam for the third straight game. Injury ruled him out of the two previous Hawks and Rangers clashes but is now in China, having linked up with Melbourne United for a two-game series against the Jiangsu Dragons. The Australian's absence was already agreed to prior to him joining the Giants.
But for the under-achieving Giants, pride is still a significant motivating factor and head coach Brendon Bailey said the team would be attempting to end the season on a positive note after letting themselves down against the Rangers last Friday.
"There's very little pressure on us because it's out of our hands now and we can only go and play," he said. "Pretty much every team we play now is playing for something , they're playing for either the top four or their positioning in the top four.
"Even with Saints, I think if we play like we did in that [33-18] third quarter [against Rangers] and we play as a team and lock up a bit better defensively and take more pride in that, I don't have any doubt we can still beat them as well.
"Saints will be the classic, they won't want to lose and they definitely won't want to lose to us. Regardless of all that, we want to finish the season well. It's been an up and down one and there's been a bit of turmoil but we still want to put in good performances in these last five games, that's for sure.
"I think regardless of what we do offensively, it's defensively where we need to be stopping teams. We did a better job and kept Rangers to only 76 points, you know, they've been averaging in the mid-90s, so that was very good.
"But we didn't get enough crucial stops at times [and] they missed a lot of shots which was lucky for us."
The Hawks have also reintroduced some trusted experience after dumping their South African import Grant Fiorentino and recalling former Hawks player, 2.05m-tall American centre Kareem Johnson.
"It's still going to be tough without Kyle again ... but I think for me, the motivation is just to redeem ourselves a bit in showing what we can do to the public again.
"It's going to be a tough one but it's just another test for the guys ... there should be a little less pressure on them. But I think in the last couple of weeks, we've showed what we can do when we play team basketball. When we go away from it, we look pretty ordinary unfortunately."
At a glance
WHAT: Nelson Giants v Hawke's Bay Hawks
WHERE: Trafalgar Centre, Nelson
WHEN: Friday, 7pm