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Wildcats travel to Wollongong just two wins from NBL title

Tue, Feb 28, 11:39am by Senior Writer

Preview: Grand Final Game Two: Illawarra Hawks v Perth Wildcats

Date and Time: Wednesday March 1, 7:30pm AEDT

Venue: WIN Entertainment Centre

TV: Fox Sports

Perth stand on the precipice of history, and are just two wins away of their first back-to-back titles since 1991 ahead of their match in Wollongong on Wednesday against the Hawks.

The Wildcats dominated Game 1 on Sunday, winning 89-77, thanks a determined effort at both ends of the court. That game was up for grabs at three quarter time, but a superb defensive effort saw the Hawks kept to just 15 points in the final term, with inspirational skipper Damian Martin leading the way.

Import Casey Prather was also crucial down the stretch, scoring ten final-quarter points to finish with 22 for the match

But despite the emphatic nature of that win, Illawarra go into the second match as favourites given 22 of the past 24 Grand Final matches have been won by the home side.

The Hawks were found wanting late in Perth, but they will feel confident having gone 9-5 at home during the season and hacing won their past four at WIN Entertainment Centre, that they can level up.

Sportsbet have Hawks at $1.80, with the Wildcats at $2. The line is at 1.5 at $1.95.

The Wildcats did win the last time these two teams played here, prevailing 95-87 on New Year’s Eve. Jesse Wagstaff stepped up off the bench to score 20 points. On the Hawks side, Oscar Forman finished with 20 points.

Interestingly, neither Forman or Wagstaff played a major role in Sunday’s series opener. In fact Forman played just seven minutes in that match and the Hawks will look to use him more in this match.

The Hawks will also need to get a lot more from Rotnei Clarke, who was well shut down in the opener with just 11 points, including just one from five from outside the arc.

The Wildcats defence has been a highlight in their remarkable run during the second half of the season. That win in Wollongong in December sparked a run of 11 wins and just four losses in 15 games. In those 11 wins, they have conceded an average of just 74 points, including just 70 in the final series.

Given they have home court advantage over the five matches, it is little wonder the Wildcats are $1.25 to defend their title, with the Hawks at $3.40 to win their first in 16 years.

I think the Wildcats can take a giant step towards a clean sweep with a win in this match and at $2, they are great value.

Suggested Bet: Wildcats to win Game Two – $2

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