Round 2 of the WNBL season saw several competitive games that were highly engaging for fans tuning in on ESPN and 9NOW. It's hard to believe it's so early in the season with teams playing so well.
A few teams are pulling away from the pack after producing some dominant wins while others are still finding their feet. However, there's plenty of season left and no team is without a chance of making the top four and winning a championship.
Let's look at three big talking points from Round 2.
Bendigo and the unstoppable duo
The Bendigo Spirit is yet to drop a game, having comfortably won all three of their matches this season and continuing to go from strength to strength. Although they have good depth and a relatively balanced team, there are two players that seem to be making a real difference: reigning WNBL MVP Anneli Maley and UC Caps transfer Kelsey Griffin.
Maley has shown she can be consistent not just in the rebound count but in her scoring as well. Known primarily for her putbacks and fadeaways in and around the key, Maley has now found even more ways to score. Using her athleticism to get buckets in transition -- running the lane or pulling up for the midrange -- she has also become an outside threat, knocking down back-to-back triples in the Spirit's win over the Sydney Flames.
On the other hand, Kelsey Griffin is thriving after transferring back to her old club. She is never stationary, constantly on the move in offence and defence. She has added great energy to the Spirit, lighting it up from outside, pushing in transition, and putting her length to good use on the defensive end. In their Round 2 game, she had four steals and was an absolute menace on court.
These two players are almost a guaranteed double-double each game and they're very well supported by Megan McKay who provides a great inside presence and Kelly Wilson who is averaging seven assists so far for the season. The Spirit have won almost all of their games by a 20-point margin, but they will be really tested when they face up against teams like the Southside Flyers and the Townsville Fire.
Sydney tackle missing Kalani Purcell
The Sydney Flames didn't get the dream start to the season they would have been after, falling short to an in-form Bendigo Spirit side.
The Flames had been dealt a tough hand with a bye in the first round before losing a key player last minute with Kalani Purcell pulling out of the WNBL season for personal reasons.
This meant they were lacking size and a defensive go getter in Purcell, who stood out last season for her steals and hustle. It was clear she was missed in the Flames' first game, as they were very undersized compared to their opponents, both in height and physicality. Defence is clearly a high priority for coach Shane Heal as he had his team pressing up for most of the game, however, it was their defensive transition that really hurt them.
On the other end, Bendigo applied heavy defensive pressure and the Flames really struggled. Shyla Heal, who was hunted down by Abbey Wehrung and forced out of her normal shots, deserves immense credit for sticking with it and finding her way further into the game.
It was strange to see her first few scores of the game be 2-pointers before she really heated up from beyond the arc and pulled out some of her trademark triples to finish the game with 20 points. Despite what the score line suggests, Sydney did well to fight through adversity and finish with plenty of good things to take into their next game and the rest of the season.
It feels wrong to be saying that Adelaide have lost their first three games as it doesn't properly give them credit for how well they've been playing; the losing margin in each of their games has been under 10 points.
It can be argued the team had a tough draw with their first three games pitting them against championship contenders. In saying that, they are yet to play the Bendigo Spirit. Perhaps, it's a case of this season's top four spots being highly competitive.
However the question still beckons: how can Adelaide do better? They have Steph Talbot who is performing well, they have the trusted Lauren Mansfield running the show and they have the young Izzy Borlase who has come out playing better than anyone imagined.
Their losses are coming down to how they finish their games. They either find a way to comeback and reduce the margin or manage to stay with a team throughout the game until the end but can't finish a game.
Perhaps it comes down to their shot choices, getting the ball to the best person or running the wrong play. It will be interesting to see how coach Nat Hurst combats this issue down the track and how she stops her team from letting this early disappointment ruin their chances as the season progresses.
ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Flyers defeat Boomers 67-57
Fire defeat Lightning 84-79
Spirit defeat Flames 77-57
Lynx defeat Capitals 97-62
Boomers defeat Lightning 85-81