NBL 2014/15 Round 11 Preview: Breakers look to continue hot streak, host Townsville

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New Zealand Breakers vs. Townsville Crocodiles

Friday, December 19, 7:30pm (local)

North Shore Events Centre

Odds: NZ Breakers $1.14; Townsville Crocodiles $5.75


New Zealand are on fire at the moment, with their latest victories coming against their rivals in the Perth Wildcats Melbourne United. The only Kiwi team now sit top of the table, and a win tonight would help improve their hold on that position.

Cedric Jackson and Corey Webster have been dominating opposing backcourts recently. This week, they face a struggling Townsville team and given that Mitch Norton and Todd Blanchfeild aren’t exactly defensive experts, the Breakers backcourt should have a field day.

For the Crocs, they have struggled with consistency over the last few weeks. It seems that none of their top players can play well at the same time. Whilst Conklin was a difference maker last week, hitting that elusive 20-10 mark and Blanchfeild poured in 16 of his own, no other Townsville player scored in double figures.

For Townsville to have any chance of toppling the ladder leaders they will need more from the rest of their team, which includes playing with excellent chemistry. Gladness has had some great defensive games, which has seen Townsville hard to score against. If he can control the paint, while Conklin and Blanchfeild can score on the other end, you just never know, a surprise could be on the cards.

Key Player

Cedric Jackson

The Breakers floor general has been solid for the Kiwi boys. After dropping, 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists against Perth and Damian Martin, Jackson could be in for a big night against Mitch Norton.

Expect Jackson to come out the gates strong and establish himself. Cedric should have no problem controlling the tempo, and that should mean the Breakers have no problem continuing their winning ways. However, if he can’t, Townsville’s job becomes significantly easier.

What To Watch For

The battle of the undersized 4’s

Conklin can be absolutely dominate under that basket, the American import often uses his strength to score a ton of easy points despite his lack of height.

On the other end, Vukona has spent his whole career as a do it all, undersized 4 for his NZ home side. Whilst Vukona isn’t known for his offensive exploits, the consummate Tall Black often gives opponents fits on defence.

Both players are critical to their team’s success, if Vukona can limit Conklin on offence, Townsville will be in real danger of a blowout. However, if Conklin uses his body and gets to 20-10, the Crocs could provide a challenge.

Final Word

The Breakers are on a hot streak at the moment. Townsville has failed to find a consistent rhythm over the last few weeks. For the Crocs to have any chance in this one, they are going to need a lot to go right. For the Breakers at home, their ability to control games has been almost unparalleled.

Breakers by 8