ILLAWARRA have spent the best part of two months comfortably nestled in the NBL top four but it’s the next five weeks that could make or break their play-offs tilt with the Hawks yet to claim a single series against any of the finals rivals.
After a slow start, the Hawks have nine of their last 14 games to climb to third on the ladder but their house could quickly come tumbling down when the numbers are crunched come finals time should they drop some crucial clashes.
They took a 2-1 buffer into their round 13 clash with Perth two weeks ago only to surrender the match and the series on their home floor and dropped their first three clashes to Sydney earlier in the season. They can claim their first split of the season with a win over Brisbane at home on Friday while they also hold a 2-1 lead over Adelaide and Melbourne with those series’ to be decided in the final three rounds.
While wins and losses remain the focus, Hawks guard Kevin White said it’s crucial his side banks some finals insurance over their final seven games.
“We haven’t spoken about it too much as group but I’ve certainly thought about the fact that right now we haven’t won a series,” White said.
“Right now we’ve lost two series and we’ve got the rest of the business to take care of and we can do that if we take care of Brisbane on Friday night. We’ve got to start to wins some series and more importantly win games because then we can separate ourselves and take the series component out of it.
“That’s how we looked at last week. It doesn’t matter if we go down by 30 or we win by 30, we wanted to walk away from that weekend 1-1 and we managed to do that as a group with a good win over Melbourne.
“Now we need to look at making our home stand and making [the WEC] a pretty formidable place. We haven’t been that great at home but to put that performance together [last week] at home shows the group’s ready to come together and get this job done.”
With the Hawks seeking to fortify the WEC in the next five weeks it’s fitting they’ll take the floor for Heritage Round on Friday night in the club’s 1998-99 strip.
That campaign was the club’s first season at the Sandpit after moving away from the Snakepit at Gwyneville.
The Bullets will wear a combination strip honouring their 1987 and 1990 championship-winning sides in what will be a showdown between the the NBL’s only two surviving foundation clubs.