maccabi haifa BASKETABALL 248.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
Over the past two weeks, Doron Perkins has proven that not even a little rust from an injury can prevent him from taking over a game for the Maccabi Haifa Heat.
The point guard finished with seven points and eight assists in his first game back during Haifa's rout over Ironi Kiryat Ata last week and in the very next game, against Givat Shmuel on Sunday, he tacked on 20 points with six assists.
Maccabi coach Avi Ashkenazi has seen a major addition to Perkins'sâ€š play that has played a large part in the team's two-game winning streak. Haifa's scoring leader has become one of the league's top defensive forces since returning to the Heat.
During the game against Givat Shmuel, Perkins gathered four steals - as many as his previous three games combined - before getting a season high of seven in Sunday's win.
Perkins's ability to play on both ends of the floor allowed Haifa to hold Givat Shmuel to 69 points. The last time Maccabi (12-7) held a team below 70 points was February 7 in its 75-68 win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
The improved defense could not have come at a better time. Its next two opponents will be against teams in the top half of the BSL in scoring (Maccabi Tel Aviv and Ironi Ashkelon).
Perkins's defense has put Haifa back in third place, but he will need to continue his efforts to help Maccabi clinch home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Better late than never
Until this week, Ironi Ashkelon's chances of making the postseason looked improbable. But, with its additions of C.J. Bruton and Tyrone Grant, it has found itself one game behind playoff contention and is currently on a two-game winning streak.
Although both players are coming off the bench, they both understand what it takes to win.
Bruton has long been considered one of the best players in the Australian Basketball League with three championships while Grant has competed with some of Italy's top teams.
Neither have impressive stats on paper, but their experience and intangibles helped change Ashkelon's fate. Bruton's understanding of the game has allowed him to create scoring opportunities for his teammates while Grant has given the team more strength inside.
Their presence has allowed Rahshon Turner to get more open looks at the basket, with the newcomersâ€š ability to draw the defense away.
In the last two games, Turner has shot 72 percent. The last time Ashkelonâ€šs leading scorer has shot over 70% in a two-game stretch was in week six. That time, his hot hand couldn't avoid his team from continuing its slump as it stumbled to a 2-4 record.
Ironi (7-12) will finish the season with three straight home games against teams with winning records and cannot yet relax despite playing in the friendly confines of its home crowd.
After losing its fifth straight game to Maccabi Haifa, Givat Shmuel is one team that would like to forget about this past month.
Givat (7-12) has been competitive in many of its losses with a point margin below 15 in every game except for Bnei Hasharon, which won by 21 points.
Its main problem is the first quarter. The only time Shmuel coach Oren Aharoni has seen his team put up at least 20 points in the opening period was in its one-point loss to Ironi Ramat Gan.
Every other time can be attributed to a slow start that the team struggles to overcome. It has averaged 16.8 points in the first quarter throughout its drought.
At the end of February, Givat Shmuel sat at 7-7. It is currently in the league's bottom four, but only one game behind Ramat Gan and Ironi Nahariya.
Its schedule certainly isnâ€št doing the team any favors.Givat will be playing top-five teams through the end of the season. That makes getting off to a quick start even more important since all three of its opponents are capable of taking Aharoni's team right out of the game if the deficit gets too large.
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