Perth Wildcats star Vic Law in moon boot before clutch games against Illawarra Hawks and South East Melbourne
Perth Wildcats are preparing one of the most important weekends in club history knowing they will be without star import Vic Law and expecting their rival for the last spot in the top four to be handed a significant advantage in their last match.
The fourth-placed Wildcats will host Illawarra on Friday night and South East Melbourne on Sunday to close out the regular season, while fifth-placed Tasmania JackJumpers are preparing to play Melbourne on Saturday.
Both the Wildcats and JackJumpers have won 16 games, but Perth have a significantly better percentage.
Law hasn’t trained since injuring his ankle against Cairns on Saturday. He had scans on Tuesday and is awaiting those results while on crutches and with his foot in a moon boot.
The American has been a potent scorer and rebounder all season and starting centre Matt Hodgson said the entire team had to lift to replace Law.
While Perth are guaranteed to play finals if Melbourne United beat Tasmania on Saturday, Hodgson doesn’t expect a full-strength United team to run out against the JackJumpers.
Melbourne have already locked away top spot on the ladder and Hodgson said it made sense for United to rest players against Tasmania and force Perth to beat either the Hawks or Phoenix to play finals.
“I 100 per cent expect them to do that. That’s no surprise,” Hodgson said.
“That’s why we have to do our job of not worrying what other teams do. If we’re in a situation where we’re relying on other teams then we are obviously in trouble.
“But absolutely, I completely think they’re going to pack it in and rest their guys and do it from a strategic point of view for not only rest for them but for a chance of more favourable match up in the first round of the play-offs.”
Perth’s famous finals streak is on the line this weekend with the players desperate to extend it to 36 consecutive seasons.
The last time they were playing for a place in the finals during the last round was in 2017 and they beat Melbourne by two points to qualify for the play-offs.
Hodgson said everyone understood that this weekend was about more than just two games of basketball.
“Obviously we’re aware of it. We’re trying to reduce as much internal pressure as possible because the external pressure is going to be there,” he said.
“But for me personally, if I look at it emotionally, I would absolutely hate it to be part of the team that ended that streak. I think everyone else feels the same way.
“It really burns me up actually thinking about that and thinking we could potentially miss this. Of course, the Cats have been in this position before.
“This is sort of a big reason why I came to this club, to learn how they handle challenges like this.”
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