Wildcats opt to take safe route to NBL finals
Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has decided to rest star quartet Jermaine Beal, Nate Jawai, Damian Martin and Casey Prather for tonight's opening match of round 19 against the Kings in Sydney.
Perth (17-9) is second on the ladder, one win behind Melbourne (18-8), and will host fifth-placed Adelaide (14-12) in the final game of the regular season on Sunday.
To take top spot and earn home-court advantage during the playoffs, the Wildcats would have to beat the Kings and 36ers, and rely on fourth-placed New Zealand (14-12) winning both its final-round games against Melbourne.
United holds a 3-1 head-to- head advantage against Perth from their games during the season, meaning Melbourne would finish above the Wildcats if the teams ended the season on the same number of wins.
Gleeson denied the unlikely scenario of finishing on top was behind his decision to leave the players at home.
Beal and Jawai are battling back tightness - a situation the return trip to Sydney would not have helped.
Martin did travel with the squad but has a sprained ankle and will not suit up, while Prather missed Friday night's 95-81 win against the Kings in Perth and has not been cleared to return to the court after a hamstring problem.
Gleeson has brought development players Cobran Wroe, Rhys Vague and Ben Dixon into the Wildcats line-up as injury replacements.
Sydney (5-21) is assured of finishing with the wooden spoon.