Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis is counting on prodigious import Perrin Buford to make a quick recovery from an ankle injury after the Bullets copped a New Year's Eve thrashing from Illawarra.
The Bullets (7-10) are second-last with 11 games remaining and need Buford in the line-up to revive their finals hopes.
Brisbane missed their leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker against the Hawks, slumping to a 104-82 loss on Sunday.
Lemanis hopes Buford is back for Friday's away game against Cairns.
"It's a stock-standard rolled ankle," Lemanis said.
"Like any team, when you take out your leading scorer it's going to affect your rhythm and your substitution patterns."
The Bullets missed the playoffs last season in Lemanis' first year in charge.
He says his team has to be more adept at sticking to the game plan.
"We need to do a better job of being smart and being able to play the game on our terms," he said.
"Illawarra like to fire it up and play a fast pace and we got caught up in that. We had 17 turnovers and if you look at the game, that's the difference, that's where all their extra possessions came from.
"They had 20 points off our turnovers and the weight of having to deal with that becomes difficult."
The Hawks (8-9) have soared back into playoffs reckoning with three straight wins.
"A few weeks ago we made a commitment to playing the style we need to play to be successful," Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said.
"We got too caught up and bogged down playing a different style. After some self-reflection I had to go back and allow the players to play with more freedom."
While Buford was a late withdrawal, Illawarra guard Rhys Martin battled an ear infection and only decided to suit up at the last minute.
"We didn't even know if Rhys was going to play," Beveridge said.
"He woke up this morning and couldn't get out of bed. The doc made a house visit and put him on some drugs straight away.
"He couldn't hear out of one ear. That slowed him down a bit and he was a bit fragile at first.
"But I threw him back out there and the way he controlled the game was amazing. He was a real critical part of why we won."