NBL 2014/15 Round 11 Preview: United look to bounce back against improving Hawks

Wollongong Hawks vs. Melbourne United

Friday, 19th December – 7.30pm (local time)

WIN Entertainment Centre

Odds: Wollongong $2.25, Melbourne $1.65

Tickets: Click here

Melbourne travel to Wollongong to meet the Hawks in a clash with plenty riding on it, particularly for the faltering visitors.

The Hawks grabbed their third win of the season when they impressively accounted for the Sydney Kings last week at home and will be looking to build on that form. Last time the Hawks won they were blown away by Perth the following week, and they will be looking to avoid another similar letdown in this clash.

Melbourne, on the other hand, went from red-hot to not after two losses at the hands of Adelaide and New Zealand left them precariously placed at 7-7. The return of Jordan McRae did little to help United continue their surge up the ladder and the boys from Victoria will be out to put in a much better performance on the road this week.

Key Player

Daniel Kickert View image | gettyimages.com ‘Kicks’ has played very much a lone hand for Melbourne at the centre position this season, with Chris Patton and Auryn MacMillan making only cameo appearances throughout as Kickert takes a breather on the bench.

His ability to draw defenders out to the perimeter, given his magnificent shooting range, has allowed the likes of Mark Worthington, Stephen Dennis and Jordan McRae to get to the ring with much more ease, and luring 7-footer Luke Nevill and veteran Larry Davidson out of the paint will help his side get some easy buckets to compliment their outside shooting.

Whether Wollongong can wear him down and get him in more foul trouble (he has been racking up the fouls in recent weeks) will also go a long way to determining whether Melbourne can return to the winner’s list or not.

What To Watch For

Ervin vs Dennis

The battle of the athletic combo guards is sure to set the arena alight.

Despite both guys struggling early in the season, with Ervin battling back problems and Dennis returning from an Achilles injury that cruelled his entire 2013/14 campaign, they are both seemingly running into some form as we approach the backend of 2014/15.

Dennis was electric last week against the Breakers, tallying 27 points and only missing three shots despite his side’s defeat at home, and his partnership with McRae is really starting to bear fruit for Melbourne.

Ervin also found form last week, starring in a typical doing-it-all performance as his Hawks knocked off Josh Childress and the Sydney Kings.

With both guards coming into their own right now, their battle should provide a highlight or two throughout the course of what should be a tough and tight affair.

Final Word

This clash is hard to pick given both teams have had a tendency to throw out polarising performances from week to week.

The Hawks have struggled to string more than one good performance together all season, hence their 3-12 record, while United’s reliance on outside shooting has meant that if they aren’t shooting the ball with much gusto then they have struggled to win games.

Nonetheless, the visitors need this win much more given the Kings, also sitting at .500, are closing in on Melbourne’s fourth place. Those two teams will meet on Sunday in Melbourne in what will decide who gets a mini-break in the top four, but for now United should account for the Hawks in this clash. Just.

Melbourne by 2