NBL 2014/15 NBA Round 4 Preview: Hawks, United attempt to climb out of the proverbial basement

Credit: Joel Armstrong |

Wollongong Hawks

Melbourne United vs. Wollongong Hawks

Sunday, 2nd November – 2:00pm (local time) Hisense Arena Odds: Melbourne $1.35, Wollongong $3.25 Tickets: Click here (The Pick and Roll are offering 2 for 1 tickets. For code: click here)

Often two teams at the bottom of the ladder will surprise you in providing an entertaining contest. There’s a sense of desperation that dictates effort will be high and players will be willing to do anything to secure a win. This should be no different as the lowly Wollongong Hawks (1 win, 6 losses) face off against the slightly less lowly Melbourne United (1 win, 3 losses). Wollongong’s season might already been done, there’s been very little in terms of signs of life coming from the Hawks, and at 1-6, the playoffs will be a steep uphill battle. Hell, it’ll be like climbing Everest. There’s still a glimmer of hope for Melbourne, however, if they were to drop this one, it might be season over for the former pseudo title contenders. Wollongong lost comfortably to a rampant Perth Wildcats squad on Friday night, going down 83-64. Therefore, Melbourne should head into the game holding two significant advantages. Firstly, they should be the fresher squad, having last played a full week ago, whereas Wollongong will be coming off a two-day break. Secondly, they possess home court advantage.

Key Player

David Barlow In the NBA there’s myriad small forwards who can be considered ‘glue guys’, players that do a little bit of everything, a jack-of-all-trades if you will. Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons, Kawhi Leonard etc. The list goes on. That role would have been the intention of the Melbourne United front office when they bought David Barlow back to the NBL. The Boomer veteran, like many of his teammates, has instead struggled mightily. His season stats thus far read much like a script for a new horror movie. Averaging a mere 5.8 points per game on a ghastly 29.2% from the field, Barlow has been unable to recapture past glories. For United to make any impact this season, they’ll require a complete 180 in form from David Barlow. He shapes as the key to victory against Wollongong on Sunday, if he can resemble the player Melbourne thought they’d signed, United should win.

What To Watch For

United taking advantage of a tired, beaten Hawks squad and putting together their most complete performance This is do-or-die for both these teams; expect the contest to reflect that. It might not be in pretty; in fact I fully expect a scrappy game of basketball. Both teams will be scratching and clawing, desperately seeking out there second wins of the young season. The more talented, well-rested United should enter as favourites, and would be disappointed to walk away with anything less than a win. Jordan McRae looms as the unstoppable man for Melbourne, the NBL’s leading scorer should score at will. Talented import Jahii Carson will prove tough to stop for United, but if they can limit his efficiency, that’ll go a long way towards victory.

Final Word

Expect the Hawks to fire plenty of shots early, buoyed by facing a team in a similar situation in terms of ladder position. However, the overall talent of Melbourne, coupled with the fatigue of Wollongong following a hectic early season should shape the contest in the second half. Melbourne by 7