Taipans welcome Perth NBL finals test

It's the most daunting NBL assignment for decades but Cairns coach Mike Kelly wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

The Taipans travel to Perth to meet the Wildcats in the first of their three-game semi-final series on Friday, which will mark the host's 34th consecutive post-season campaign.

The defending champions finished the regular season in second and with two home semi-final games have been strongly backed to reach the final two again.

But Cairns, who behind point guard Scott Machado have risen from wooden spooners last season to finish third, aren't scared of playing in front of nearly 15,000 Wildcats fans.

"It's exactly how you want to start a finals series; go and play a very good team at their place," recently-crowned NBL coach-of-the-year Kelly said.

Cairns beat the Wildcats 99-76 in Perth late last year, the victory sparking their season after a 0-3 start indicated more doom and gloom for the Queenslanders.

But the Taipans, who will host game two on Sunday, finished the year 16-12 as Machado, DJ Newbill and Cameron Oliver combined to become arguably the league's most devastating import trio.

"We've been to Perth and won before and we're going to try and replicate that," Kelly said.

"It's been that build up of pressure over the season and the guys have dealt well with it most times.

"Perth's going to be that higher level during the finals; all you can do is trust the preparation and go there and face up to it."

Machado's battle with NBL MVP Bryce Cotton has been the focus of the series but the point guard was quick to bring clarity to the match-up.

"Bryce doesn't play point guard, but it's a wonderful competition, something that every player wants," he said.

"Everybody is going to make it a big deal, but it's going to be a team game and whoever figures it out quicker wins.

"It's going to feel like an NCAA (American college) game or even an NBA play-off game ... we're ready for it."