NBL 2014/15 Round 12 Preview: Melbourne and Perth to fight it out in top four battle

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Melbourne United vs. Perth Wildcats

Hisense Arena

Sunday 28th December 2014, 2:00pm local time

Odds: Melbourne $1.80; Perth $2


After two overtime wins last round, Melbourne are on a roll and hungry for more while Perth will be desperate after losing to the Josh Childress led Sydney Kings.

Perth will head to Melbourne for their top 4 clash on Sunday at Hisense Arena.

Melbourne are the first team in NBL history to win two overtime games in one weekend, leaving them on a high and believing they can do some damage in the second half of the year.

At the other end of the court sit Perth, who have been ever reliable and a force in the competition for a long time. However, they have lost two out of the last three games and will be looking to get back on track.

Last time these two teams met, Melbourne got a big win at home with some great defence taking Jermaine Beal and DeAndre Daniels out of the game for Perth. Wildcats head coach Trevor Gleeson was very upset with his team's performance in this particular game saying that he could have scored on Perth's defence that night.

Key Player

Mark Worthington

Worthington is having a stellar season for Melbourne United and the co-captain must keep this up to give his side a chance against Perth.

With Perth being known as a tough team on the court, Worthington's hustle abilities will be crucial to counter act Perth's physical pressure. Worthington enjoys a good battle with bodies banging so he will be looking to take it up to the Perth team.

Usually Worthington gets the matchup on 'crowd favourite' Shawn Redhage, which promises to be a fiery battle. Both players must be able to keep a cool head and avoid hurting their team by receiving a technical or unsportsmanlike foul. In their last matchup, Redhage was unable to this as he received an unsportsmanlike foul at a crucial stage of the game.

As Worthington seems to be the best rebounding player on the United team, he must continue to box out and fight hard for rebounds to help out centre, Daniel Kickert.

Worthington has been a leader all season for United and has to keep this role against the regaining champions.

What to watch for

The Rebound Count

Melbourne won their first rebound count in recent memory in last weeks win over the Sydney Kings and was a factor in getting over the line.

United have struggled in this area all season and Perth will be looking to take advantage of that. The Wildcats have some great rebounding players, such as Matt Knight, Shawn Redhage and Jesse Wagstaff who will all be looking to get on the offensive glass.

As United do not have a rebounding big man, the team must rebound as a unit and box out across the court. If Melbourne win the rebound count, they will be a lot closer to win then if they do not.

Giving up easy points against a quality team such as Perth is dangerous if you have winning intentions. Letting the Wildcats grab easy offensive rebounds and getting the easy second chance points will make it a hard task for United to win the game.

Final Word

Both teams will be looking to move higher in the top four with a win in this game as the 3rd versus 4th matchup promises to be one of the games of the round.

It could come down to the battle of the NBA draftees with Jordan McRae going up against DeAndre Daniels in what could be a crazy shootout. Whoever gets the better output from their star import, could steal a victory.

With both teams having very deep rosters, the battle of the benches will be an important one. Lucas Walker, Nate Tomlinson and Daryl Corletto will face off against Jesse Wagstaff, Tom Jervis and Earnest Ross.

Perth will be searching for some payback after their last encounter with Melbourne and wanting to make a statement, while Melbourne are in some good form after the two overtime wins and have an outstanding home record.

Melbourne by 1