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Blowing the whistle: WNBL Semis, G1


THERE’s a certain irony in the fact Canberra tonight launches the playoff stage of its WNBL championship campaign against Perth, the other club where complaints were rampant about officiating “home cooking”.

You can just bet if the best-of-three semi final series between the first-placed Caps and the fourth-placed Lynx goes with homecourt, there will be more than a suggestion of some kitchen odours over the venue.

But there shouldn’t be.

The Lynx twice narrowly beat Canberra (in Perth, funnily enough), and the Capitals savaged Perth by 32 points when they met in the national capital last month.

On a nine-game winning streak coming into tonight’s Game 1 in Canberra, the Capitals are almost unbackable.

Sure, they were less-than-impressive escaping Bendigo with a double-overtime success over a severely-depleted Spirit team to end the regular season.

But it still reads a whole lot better than leading Adelaide by 21 and still by 15 midway through the last quarter at home in Perth, before losing in overtime.

If winning form is good form, then Canberra is the benchmark. Perth has a lot of work to do and if its one-on-one game breaks down, it doesn’t have the greatest Plan B.

This one again could be a series sweep, mirroring Perth’s finals fate last year.

SUNDAY in Melbourne would see the Boomers start odds-on to beat MAC Lightning considering they swept Adelaide 3-0 during the regular season.

While two of those wins in Melbourne were nail-biters that ended with a couple of lucky breaks for the home team, Melbourne’s recent 15-point win over Lightning in Adelaide was decisive.

Yes, decisive, but by no means definitive, Steph Talbot (21 points at 57 percent) and Lindsay Allen (22 points at 56 percent) blowing out the margin with a clinical shooting display.

How Lauren Nicholson, easily the WNBL’s Best Defensive Player in 2018-19, pulls up after suffering a fractured nose against Perth last round, also will be a factor.

But who does she defend? Allen? Talbot, Jenna O’Hea? Maddie Garrick?

It was Adelaide’s narrow first loss to Melbourne which set the team on its path back to the playoffs for the first time in six years.

While a loss in Melbourne in Game 1 looms as the most likely scenario, the Lightning’s brother team Adelaide 36ers was swept 3-0 by South East Melbourne Magic in the 1998 regular season.

The Sixers then beat the Magic 2-0 for the championship.

ALL WNBL playoff matches are on FOX SPORTS

Jan 25

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