NBL 2014/15 Round 11 Preview: Cats look to pounce on capricious Kings

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Sydney Kings V Perth Wildcats

Thursday 18th December, 7:30pm local time

Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney

Odds: Sydney - $1.48, Perth - $2.65

Tickets: here


Thursday night will see the first sporting action in Sydney since the country stood still in the frightening hostage situation earlier in the week. Political and social effects aside, this will be an emotion filled game for both teams who will be playing with heavy hearts.

The hosts, Sydney, had a disappointing round 10; losing to the lowly Wollongong Hawks in an awful performance. Perth represents a measuring stick for their season and will indicate whether or not they can legitimately contend for the championship.

Perth, who would have topped my power-rankings prior to round 10, found themselves convincingly beaten by the Breakers, before closing the round out with a restorative win against Adelaide. Win or lose on Thursday, Perth are serious contenders this year, but need to work on making their away performances match their brilliance at home.

The Kings will no doubt be leaning heavily on the services of Josh Childress, who poured in 35 points and 12 rebounds, 5 of which were on the offensive end. Despite his efforts, the Kings still lost, reinforcing the issues they have had all year; a total lack of production from anyone not named Childress.


Key Player

Matthew Knight

Knight produced his game of the season last week, bruising his way to 16 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Any time someone has a line where you need to take a breath recounting it, you know they've had a stellar game. Knight dominated Adelaide's big men and will need to do the same this week against the Kings. Outside of Angus Brandt, Sydney is vulnerable in the paint and with the Kings focusing on DeAndre Daniels and Jermaine Beal, Knight will find himself in single-coverage. Go to work big man!

Defensively, Knight is going to have his hands full keeping Childress off the offensive glass. Knight himself, is averaging 9 defensive boards per game, but he will find his biggest challenge this week in Childress, who makes a living from second chances. If Sydney can attack Knight early and force him into foul trouble, they might be able to open things up themselves down low.

Moves like this will help the Kings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH5i8r-ufus


What to watch for

Is Perry in the building?

Ahhh Kendrick Perry; I am guessing he is an on-going headache for Kings fans, as he shows flashes of brilliance (see above), but produces a pittance (2/8 fgs, 3 assists, 2 turnovers - last week). Perry combined with Ben Madgen to shoot 3/21 last week, dishing out a meager 4 assists in another 'stop and stare at Childress' performance. The Kings need some production from their back-court and will find their playoff window continually closing until they get it.

Perry needs to be aggressive and force some Wildcat adjustments, otherwise he is just an expensive decoy. Perth is simply too good on defense for the Kings to rely on one weapon. As evidenced in their 9 team assists against the Hawks, their entire offense is struggling to move the ball. Unless they have quickly tweaked schemes since Sunday, Perth poses themselves as a daunting match-up.


Prediction

The Kings have played some great basketball this year beating top sides like the Breakers, Cairns and Adelaide. However, they have been far too inconsistent for my liking and simply cannot garner any game changing performances from anyone on their roster not sporting an Afro. They have already been beaten by Perth twice his year and unless they can summon some inner-Spurs basketball, they will be facing the same fate. Both teams will be playing with extra motivation due to the weeks events, but I still see Sydney coming up short.

Perth by 10+