NBL 2014/15 Round 11 Preview: Sydney storm into Melbourne territory

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Melbourne United vs. Sydney Kings

Sunday, December 21, 2:00pm (local),

Margaret Court Arena

Odds: Melbourne United $1.40, Sydney Kings $2.95


Coming into this game, the Kings and United sit 4th and 5th respectively on the table. As things start to heat up this season, this could prove to be a critical game when positions are decided at the end of the year.

Melbourne is coming off a solid yet unspectacular win against the lowly Hawks, needing an extra period to put Wollongong away. Sydney played the ever steady Perth on Friday, and managed to pull away with a win despite their fourth quarter struggles.

Both of theses teams had high expectations coming into this season, and that hasn’t changed. Sydney will need Josh Childress and Ben Madgen to continue their strong play, while Jason Cadee played a critical roll on Thursday night and should continue his positive form off the bench.

For the home team, Jordan McRae has been doing his best Childress impression the last few games. The import dropped 30 points on Friday against the Hawks. He will need a host of his teammates to step up and help him if Melbourne wants to beat Sydney in the capital city show down.

Key Player

Lucas Walker

The Melbourne high-flyer has been tasked with defending the opposing teams best player on more than one occasion. With elite-level athleticism Walker can keep pace with just about any top level player in the NBL. Today should see him matched up with Childress, possibly his biggest challenge to date.

If Walker can limit Childress to anything less than his average of 20-10 (points/rebounds), Melbourne will have a great chance of beating the Kings. It should also allow McRae to spend more of his energy towards the offensive end. Expect Walker to come in and pester Childress into tough looks all day.

What To Watch For

3’s, turnovers and more 3’s

Melbourne loves to shoot from distance, and the Kings boast arguably the leagues best perimeter shooter in Madgen. If either team gets hot from deep, we could have a shootout on our hands. As well as that, both teams have improved their defensive pressure since the start of the season. Melbourne forced the Hawks into 18 turnovers on Friday, whilst the Kings managed to affect Perth’s usual solid offence into an uncanny 14 turnovers.

Today is sure to be an up and down affair, as both teams look to push the tempo and use their defensive pressure to make life difficult for their opponent. Melbourne should be looking to use it’s full court pressure again, right from the start as Kendrick Perry hasn’t shown an ability to effectively navigate against strong defensive pressure. On the other end, it could mean a lot more transition looks for United, and possibly open corner 3’s.

Final Word

This one is tough to call; both squads sit neck and neck on the ladder and above .500. Melbourne is a playoff level squad and will need to make a statement today against the Kings. Expect big games from the NBL's big guns, however this game comes down to which squad's role players step up.

Each team boasts deep rosters led by their superstar imports, with a number of guys capable of stepping up each night. Home crowds seem to make a lot of difference in this league, which therefore gives the ascendancy to Melbourne. One thing is for sure though; all eyes will be watching, as this is sure to be a great showdown on the east coast!

United by 2