NBL 2014/15 Round 14 Preview: 36ers come to Melbourne carrying playoff hopes

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Melbourne United vs. Adelaide 36ers

Saturday, January 10, 7:00pm (local)

State Netball & Hockey Centre, Melbourne

Odds: Melbourne United $1.23, Adelaide 36ers $4.20


Melbourne come into tonight's game off the back of a solid win over the Sydney Kings last week. Four of Melbourne’s five starters managed 11 or more points in the contest, highlighting United’s balanced scoring attack.

Led by captain Mark Worthington, who managed a double double against the Kings finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Melbourne will be looking for more of the same, as he faces a tough match up with the bigger Brock Motum this week.

Melbourne has a clear advantage coming into tonight’s game, given their length and height across their starting lineup. United will be hoping for big games from both Jordan McRae and Stephen Dennis this week as the guards have been solid together in their last few outings, working well off each other.

For Adelaide, they will need all hands on deck to topple the home side. The Sixers have found themselves on quite a run as of late, having dispatched their opponents the last time they met.

With the Sixers now starting to find their mojo, they have put themselves in the slightest of contentions for a playoff berth. With the team finally starting to play with a healthy roster, thanks to the returns of Mitch Creek and Jamar Wilson, Adelaide will need another win on the board tonight if they are to sniff a playoff chance.

However, that was all drowned out with BJ Anthony going down to a season ending Achilles injury. He becomes such an important loss for the Sixers as the energy he provides off the bench is second to none.

Jamar Wilson had a great game last week against New Zealand finishing with 21 points and more of that would be greatly appreciated by the loyal 36ers fans.

Key Player

Brock Motum

The big man has been scoring like many expected him to, but its his lack of effort on the boards that has been concerning.

His size and strength, not to mention NBA level experience should mean he cleans the glass with ease. Yet the Aussie Boomer hasn’t been the force on the glass many expected he would.

If Adelaide wants to have any hope of winning tonight, Motum will need to step up on the glass and rebound nearly every missed shot in his vicinity. He faces a tough match up in Worthington, however if he sees time against Daniel Kickert he must take advantage of the match up and look to force the issue down low.

Melbourne is small off their bench and getting either of United’s undersized bigs in foul trouble early could even the match significantly. Look for Motum to score his usual 18+ points tonight but his effort on the glass and the help he gets from his team mates, will determine how close this game is.

What To Watch For

Did someone say 7 seconds or less?

Both these teams like to run up the scoreboard, both run undersized starting 5’s with their preference being to do damage away from the basket and open up driving lanes for their guards to attack.

Expect both these teams to reach the 80-point mark. With neither team being particularly strong defensively, if Gibson gets it going and Wilson can have another scoring outburst, plus with Motum doing his thing, Adelaide has plenty of potential weapons to put points on the board. The same can be said of Melbourne, McRae continues to put the league on notice that Josh Childress isn’t the only superstar import in this league, whilst the point scoring explosions have been shared between the rest of Melbourne’s starting 5 for most of the season.

Final Word

Melbourne are three wins clear for the final playoff spot and won’t want to let that grip slip. Adelaide on the other hand are close to saying goodbye to their playoff hopes; the team needs a lot of luck and a good roll of the dice to make it, but its not impossible. It will be tough for the 36ers on the road, but they have nothing to lose.

Melbourne faces a tough stretch in the next few games and Adelaide could find themselves sneaking into that 4th spot. They will just need to start things right with a win tonight, and unfortunately for them, that's not happening.

Melbourne by 7