NBL 2014/15 Round 16 Preview: Kings and 36ers battle to keep season alive

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Sydney Kings (9-12) Vs. Adelaide 36ers (11-11)

Sunday January 25th, 2:00pm

Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney

Odds: Sydney - $2.10, Adelaide - $1.70

Tickets: here

Game day Sunday sees two hungry teams fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot as the NBL regular season dies down. A loss for either team, but especially Sydney, will likely mean the end of their season as the chase to leapfrog fourth placed Melbourne intensifies.

Adelaide is riding a four game win streak which was punctuated with a close fought 89-85 victory over the Wollongong Hawks on Friday. The 36ers received solid contributions from their starters who ended with five players in double figures. Playing for the first time with returning star Daniel Johnson, the 36ers continue to make their late season push.

The Kings played out of their skin on Friday night, defeating the league leading Breakers 101-81. In a classic all round performance, Sydney put the home side to the sword early with some strong play inside through Tom Garlepp (16 points). The extra attention inside gave their shooters Cody Ellis and Jason Cadee some extra room and they made the Breakers pay combining for four three-pointers.

These two teams have met twice already this season (Round 5 and 9), with the Kings taking both games comfortably. This Adelaide team is a different once since then however, with Brock Motum (18.1 ppg) and Jamar Wilson (19.1 ppg) leading the charge for the play-off driven club.

Key Player

Adam Gibson

The leagues second ranked player in assists (5.2), Gibson and the 36ers have found success without him contributing much on the scoreboard. His passing, whilst being second to one (Cedric Jackson), has enabled shooters like Motum, Wilson and Petrie to get more open looks at the basket.

Whilst Gibson is always a threat to score himself, his confidence in his shooting and driving especially, has waned. Prior to Friday night, Gibson had gone five games without attempting a free-throw or shooting 50% from the field. Dimes like the one below show Gibson at his pass-first best and he will need to look to attack Sydney's Kendrick Perry, who often struggles on the defensive end.

Gibson is a multi cat player who heavily influences the success of his team. The Kings will have their hands-full containing his game.

[gfycat data_id="DefiniteWideeyedChupacabra"]

What to watch for

Who wants it more?

Neither team is in a position where they can drop anymore games so this one is penciled in to be a fiery encounter. Sydney brought the heat to Auckland on Friday and must overcome their travel to meet Adelaide with the same intensity.

The 36ers have the more talented team and will have to use that to their advantage in order to stop the best player, Josh Childress. The Breakers played him in single coverage on Friday and that worked out poorly; Adelaide and the man who will guard him, Mitch Creek, will surely have something up their sleeves.

Kings big man Tom Garlepp has scored in double figures in five straight games, becoming a solid second option on offense. He is going to get a match-up with the dominating Brock Motum and must be able to produce for the Kings to have a chance.

Final Word

Sydney has home advantage in this one and has defeated Adelaide in their previous two encounters this season. That information paired with their impressive victory on Friday, should be enough to list them as favorites. Adelaide is on a four game winning streak where they have won three away from home and have the more talented squad. With Daniel Johnson back in the fold they should be too strong for the home squad in what is shaping up to be a tight contest.

Adelaide by 3.