Round 12 of the WNBL will greet us with a host of interesting matchups as teams continue their pursuit for a position in the top four. All previous games are irrelevant now, teams treating each game like a fresh start with nothing to lose.
This week Perth face off against two teams that sit higher than them on the ladder, the Bendigo Spirit, and the Melbourne Boomers. These teams faced off in Round 11 and the Spirit came from behind to trump the top team who weren't expected to lose.
As much as the Spirit will be riding that winning wave, they aren't unbeatable -- especially without their stay player Kelsey Griffin, who appears to be out indefinitely with a hamstring issue.
The Perth Lynx have improved their rebound game as a team, not just counting on Lauren Scherf's size to pick up the boards. This will be crucial against the Spirit and the league's current second best rebounder Anneli Maley.
The same can be said for the Boomers, the league's leading rebounder being Cayla George. Against the Boomers it won't just be defence that the Lynx will need to focus on, but their offence needs to be sharp and consistent. They have a plethora of scoring threats, but most, if not all, will need to be knocking them down if they are to keep up with the Boomers.
Scherf should look to go to work inside and try to draw fouls on George and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. While the guards not only need to be ready on the three-point line, but also aggressive in their drives to the ring and putting the Boomers at risk to foul. They primarily play their starting five so if any of them get in foul trouble then they must sit.
Can the Boomers bounce back?
The Melbourne Boomers will be disappointed with their loss against the Bendigo Spirit, particularly due to the 15-point lead they surrendered. They look their best when the offence is flowing and the ball is moving, each individual starter is capable of scoring on one and from a set shot. But they need to all be moving for space to open.
In the second half of their recent loss, they appeared stagnant and overly reliant on big Cayla George, who although was playing well, had started to be clamped down on. George, Tiffany Mitchell, and Kristy Wallace are amongst the players with the highest averaged points per game and both Miela Goodchild and Olivia Nelson-Ododa are also capable of putting up big numbers.
Wallace was unlucky to miss so many mid-range jumpers last week, but she is known to put them away so should keep shooting them. She also averages the second highest number of assists per game and by attacking the key where she can draw players and dish to her teammates, her speed being one of her best assets.
The Boomers won't want to lose another game and will be looking to use their home crowd to help get them over the line and maintain their top spot on the ladder.
Townsville vs. Lynx - the real battler for fourth
These teams might not be playing each other in Round 12, but they are fighting for a spot in the top four. Fourth spot is up for grabs with the Perth Lynx only one win behind the Townsville Fire. If the Lynx win both games and the Fire lose both then the Lynx will steal the Fire's position on the ladder, but otherwise the Fire will stay in where they are. It might be a big ask seeing as the Fire look to have a more favourable run of opponents this round, but in this WNBL season, we know anything is possible!