NBL 2014/15 Round 6 Preview: Cairns to bounce back against floundering United

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Melbourne United vs. Cairns Taipans

Wednesday 12th November, 7pm (local time)

Margaret Court Arena

Tickets: Click Here

Odds: Melbourne United $1.85, Cairns Taipans $1.95

Following their first loss of the season, Cairns will be looking to exact revenge on a Melbourne United squad that is growing increasingly desperate.

Melbourne is no pushover, despite their disappointing start to the season; this was and possibly still is a squad with championship aspirations. The talent level is still there, however, they face a tall order against Cairns.

They will be sweating on the fitness of captain Mark Worthington who missed Sunday’s loss with an elbow infection. Worthington’s injury status coupled with the physicality of their road loss to Perth and Cairns having an extra two days of recovery doesn’t exactly bode well for Melbourne.

However, playing for the first time at the recently refurbished Margaret Court Arena should provide a spark to the weary United players. Moreover, the Breakers proved that Cairns aren’t unbeatable, exposing some holes in their play that other squads should look to exploit.

Key Player

Scottie Wilbekin

Coming off arguably his worst game in the NBL, the consensus MVP candidate Wilbekin will be looking to bounce back against United.

Clearly, if Wilbekin’s influence and efficiency is stifled, the opposition has a far greater chance of winning. Wilbekin struggled with his shot against the Breakers, hitting 8-21 from the field and only 1-7 from deep. Furthermore, he also struggled to control the offense and his teammates, only managing 1 assist for the game.

Wilbekin will be looking to more closely emulate his season averages coming into last week’s contest, 18.2 points on 47% shooting and 4.3 assists. If Melbourne lets him have his usual influence and last week’s drop-off proves to be a statistical anomaly, Cairns will prove difficult to stop.

What to Watch For

The Return to MCA

There are plenty of juicy match-ups to watch for in this one, including two of the best imports in the business in Scottie Wilbekin and Jordan McRae.

However, the return of basketball to the beautiful Margaret Court Arena will surely be a treat for long-time NBL fans.

Melbourne United have created quite a stir with their total rebranding, but the return to Margaret Court Arena should win a few fans back. If anyone has seen the remodelled court design and arena, it is pristine and a work of art.

Forgive me for being nostalgic, but MCA looks ripe for NBL basketball, hopefully the home crowd comes out in full voice, giving the arena the atmosphere it deserves.

Final Word

Inexplicably, the bookmakers appear to have given United a slight edge in this contest. Despite the uncertainty of Mark Worthington and the fatigue from the Perth road trip, Melbourne is slight favourites. Perhaps home court advantage has been overvalued here.

Regardless, Cairns deserves to go into this contest as favourites. Despite a slip up last week, this is still the best team with the best player in the NBL.

If Mark Worthington plays, the spiritual leader would have a big influence on the game, undoubtedly doing all he can to will his side over the line. However, Cairns are simply the better team right now, you’d be a brave man to tip United in this one.

Cairns by 6