By Ryan Edwards
Sunday night was a tough result for both Southside fans and players, falling 80-82 in Game 1 of the WNBL Grand Final series despite being up six in the last quarter. We shot an efficient 47% from the field and limited to Capitals to 5/17 3PT shooting, but that wasn’t enough as we now face a must-win elimination game at AIS Arena from 7:30PM
Fortunately for the Flyers road teams are 4-0 in all Flyers-Capitals games, with plenty of positives to be taken into this Game 2 clash. Here is an in-depth look at what went right for Southsiders in Game 1 and what they need to improve upon to force a title-deciding Game 3 here in Dandenong:
Attacking the Rim
Until the last few minutes of the game, the Flyers were looking much more comfortable scoring the ball against the Capitals than they have all season. Southside still continued their unusual struggles of knocking down spot up 3PT shots vs the Capitals at just 20% shooting, but star guards Leilani Mitchell and Bec Cole caused havoc inside, relentlessly attacking the hoop with great success. Between the pair, Southside produced a red hot 1.40 points per possession (PPP) when they were able to get off a shot in the paint. Bec Cole was particularly effective at finding driving lanes, creating open looks for herself and her teammates. In possessions ending with a Cole drive, the Flyers produced 1.35 PPP.
Leilani Mitchell did her damage in the pick and roll, regardless of whatever defensive looks Canberra threw her way. Despite struggling to score in the regular season vs switched pick and rolls, Leilani was responsible for eight points on four tries by drawing in the D and finding an open player. Overall, Mitchell led the Flyers to 1.40 PPP from the pick and roll.
Struggling to Protect the Paint
On the other end of the court, the Flyers struggled to keep the Capitals away from the basket. Despite effectively taking away the Canberra pick & roll attack by limiting them to 0.67 PPP, Southside were beat in the paint, giving up 1.12 PPP at the rim.
The Flyers once again struggled to defend Canberra against isolation attacks, and were often beat by off the ball movements. Canberra blitzed the Flyers with plays set up by handoffs, putting the primary defender on the back hip of the player receiving the handoff. The Capitals put up 1.57 PPP on possession ending with a handoff. Equally lethal, Southside were beat by off-ball cuts to the hoop, where they gave up a brutal 1.70 PPP.
Cleaning the Glass
In what has been a trend in the season long matchup between the Flyers and Capitals, the winning team once again won the offensive glass battle by a large margin, 12-6. The Flyers played excellent defense throughout the game on first shot attempts, holding Canberra to 0.76 PPP with 13 or more second left on the shot clock. They were outstanding at getting back in transition, holding their opponents to a dismal 0.54 PPP.
However, all that hard work was often undone by failing to secure a rebound, allowing the Capitals to get an easy second chance basket. The Flyers gave up 1.27 PPP with 7-12 seconds left on the shot clock, the time frame immediately following a shot clock reset from an offensive rebound.
Secure the boards, protect the paint and drive hard and we’ll be right back in this series Southside! Let’s take it to the Caps tonight on their homecourt and bring this one back to Dandenong, it ain’t over yet!
Game 2 of the WNBL Grand Final series will tip off at 7:30PM at Canberra’s AIS Arena, with all the action broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports Ch. 507 and Kayo Sports. To sign up for a free 14-day Kayo Sports trial click here.