How Melbourne must adjust in the wake of the Goulding injury
Melbourne United are facing the possibility of being without star guard Chris Goulding for 'a few weeks' after he suffered a nasty ankle injury in the final quarter of United's 78-70 win over Brisbane on Thursday.
Goulding, who ignited Melbourne with three triples in the second quarter, was bringing the ball up the floor when he stepped on the foot of Bullets guard Matt Kenyon and subsequently rolled his ankle in an awful manner.
He writhed in pain on the floor before being assisted off the court by teammates.
"We feel real bad for Chris, hopefully it isn't to long and he rehabs it quick" Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos said post game.
"He's had a rough stretch health wise that way and we collectively try and think as positively as we can for him."
Despite this being his second ankle injury this year, Goulding is remaining positive.
"If I can get some good treatment then I won't miss too many games," Melbourne's marquee player said.
He went on to say that a lot of icing and physio would be required to get him back on the court.
"Getting up during the night to ice it and keep it compressed so we can keep the swelling down, so that in a couple of days we can do more tests and see what the outlook is," Goulding explained.
Coach Dean Demopoulos and his Melbourne side are now faced with the difficult task of covering the hole left on offence in the absence of Goulding.
Veteran import Ramone Moore appears to be the logical replacement for Goulding in the starting lineup, as the American offered a steady hand in the fourth quarter of United's win over Brisbane.
Moore, who contributed an equal team high 15 points, handled most of the dribbling when he entered the game for Goulding with 8 minutes left to play. He was able to find Tai Wesley for a crucial three off a drive and kick, while also nailing a pair of free throws late.
"I just had to come in and step up," Moore said post game.
"We had lost one of our leaders, who is big for this team, but I just had to come in with some composure and do a great job offensively and defensively."
While Moore isn't as prolific from the three point line as Goulding, he does offer the potential to slash to the rim and create shots for other outside shooters.
The key player over the next few weeks for United however, will be Cedric Jackson.
Melbourne must use a combination of Jackson in the post as well as a higher dosage of pick and pop between Jackson and David Andersen to help cover the loss of Goulding.
Jackson thrives off backing down opponents with brute strength in the post then employing an array of finesse moves to get shots off point-blank.
Melbourne should elect to give the ball to Jackson down low to begin games. Not only will this allow United to get some confidence boosting shots around the rim early, it will also open up the floor as the game goes on.
Jackson is able to take most guards in the NBL into the paint and get to the rim one-on-one. In the past, this has often forced opposing teams to send a double team to force the ball out of his hands or have another defender sag off their opponent in the event Jackson gets by his defender.
In both instances this can lead to a wide open shot for another player. That shot often comes in the weak-side corner after swinging the ball around the perimeter after a pass out of the post, or, it comes in the form of an easy bucket around the rim due to the closest defender sagging off his opponent to much.
For Melbourne, the players in the weak-side corner predict to be Todd Blanchfield or Ramone Moore, both of whom have been reliable knock down shooters in the early part of the season. Jackson could also dish the ball off to the likes of David Andersen, Majok Majok or Devin Williams should their player be overly aggressive when playing help defence.
In the instance when Jackson doesn't go the block, running pick and pop with Jackson and veteran David Andersen will be another effective way to cover the loss of Goulding on offence. While Melbourne have already employed this, they will need to run it even more going forward.
David Andersen has an exceptional mid range game, he shot 54% from the field at the Rio Olympics with a lot of those attempts coming from outside the key.
While a lot of the offensive focus will turn to the likes of Jackson, Andersen and Ramone Moore, it will ultimately be up to everyone to replace the production of Goulding.
"Dave Andersen said at the end of the game we all had to step up with Chris being out, everybody, not just one person," Moore said after the Brisbane game.
"He's right. Hopefully we get Chris back sooner than later but we have to do our job and do it even better now he's out."
Melbourne take on the reigning champion Perth Wildcats at Hisense Arena on Sunday.