NBL 2014/15 Round 15 Preview: United head West to cement playoff berth

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Melbourne United (10-10) v Perth Wildcats (12-7)

Wednesday, January 21st, 7:00pm (local)

Perth Arena, Perth

Odds: Perth Wildcats $1.37, Melbourne United $3.10


Perth and Melbourne sit third and fourth respectively on the table with both teams fighting to cement their spot in the NBL playoffs, as the 36ers are currently staring at them in the rear view mirror. The loser of this contest is looking at potentially missing out on a top 4 placing. To add to the excitement, this game will feature throwback uniforms, just to make things more fun.

Melbourne comes into tonight’s game off a tough loss to the Breakers last weekend. Jordan McRae had possibly his worst game of the season, finishing with just two points on 7% shooting. He will need to step things up this week, as Perth’s star guards Damian Martin and Jermaine Beal will provide tough match-ups for the American guard.

Melbourne relies very heavily on their starters and for them to maintain their playoff hopes they will need more off the bench. That could come in the form of a Lucas Walker highlight game. The Melbourne forward has an athletic advantage on just about every other bench player in the NBL. If he can use that to his benefit, he could make the difference in this game.

Perth suffered a nail biting loss to the surging 36ers last week. In what was a high scoring contest, Jess Wagstaff topped the team with 23 points, while four out of Perth’s five starters scored 10+ points.

Just like Melbourne, Perth looks for most of its production from its starting five and they will be looking for someone to step up again this week. With Earnest Ross out for the season after his Achilles injury, Perth has struggled to find a consistent threat from the bench. DeAndre Daniels should continue his strong play, and Beal will no doubt provide his usual outstanding outside presence.

One thing is for sure, both teams will be playing all out and this one should provide lots of entertainment, so be sure to follow along for all the action.

Key Player

Mark Worthington

The heart and soul of the Melbourne United, Worthington is challenged by only Damian Martin as the hardest working player in the league. If anyone can lead Melbourne to a much-needed victory it’s the ex-Boomers veteran. Worthington is due for a big game after scoring less than nine points in his last two contests, therefore expect Wortho to come out firing in this one as Melbourne will need all hands on deck to top Perth.

If the undersized four man can have a renaissance game, Melbourne becomes much more of a threat. Worthington will need to be vocal and loud in this game as United are playing in a hostile environment away, and Melbourne will need him to step up and provide that strong veteran leadership. Look for him to get close to a 20 point 10 rebound game in a Melbourne victory. If Perth limits him, their job becomes a whole lot easier.

What To Watch For

Daniels vs McRae

So who is the second best American import after Childress? Well we might just find out tonight, as the two are likely to see time against each other while these teams battle it out. Though these two aren’t listed at the same position, you can be sure they will see plenty of time staring each other down tonight.

This should provide lots of fun for the viewers, as both of these guys are top scorers with highlight reel athleticism. Whoever has the better performance of these two is probably going to be on the winning team, look for these guys to go one on one and score 20+ with style.

Final Word

Melbourne is at risk of losing its fourth place spot on the table. They quite possibly have everything to lose, however Perth face potentially similar problems down the road if they lose tonight. Both teams boast first class starting fives so look for someone off the bench to step up and make a big difference.

Given that Perth is playing at home and Perth Arena arguably the hardest venue to play in as a visiting side the Wildcats scrape over the line, however Melbourne won't make things easy.

Perth by 5