NBL 2014/15 Round 7 Preview: Crumbling Cairns take on Kings in Thursday night action
Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans
Thursday 20th November, 7:30 pm local time
Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney
Odds: Sydney Kings $1.77; Cairns Taipans $2.05
Thursday night sees the table-topping Taipans (6-2) face off against the suddenly struggling Kings (3-4) in Sydney. Both teams are searching to find their identity, coming off losses in round six.
The Kings were riding high after convincing wins over Wollongong and Adelaide in round five. That wave came crashing down, along with their playoff conversation in round six against the Wildcats. Import Josh Childress continued to impress with 23 points and 12 rebounds, however the reinforcements failed to arrive as the team shot a horrid 39%, including 1/14 from three-point land. This team needs to prove that is more complex than the single dimension, known as Childress.
Cairns is coming off two straight losses to the Breakers and Melbourne, where suddenly the formula that led them to six straight victories ran dry. Both squads dared the Taipans to beat them from the outside, a tactic that paid off - Stephen Weigh shooting 1/5 and MVP candidate Scottie Wilbekin going 3/15 from long range during the stretch. The Taipans as a team are shooting 24% from three in the same span, a stat that will keep them from beating most professional outfits.
This game is going to be crucial for both teams, as they attempt to cement their position in the NBL hierarchy. Cairns must force somebody other than Childress to beat them, whilst the Kings need to limit Wilbekin's penetration and dare Cairns' shooters to be the difference maker.
Perry is getting dangerously close to the nickname "ghost". He continues to vanish from games, contributing very little in his 24 minutes of action; 11 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, 42% field goals. The Kings need more production from him to help take the pressure off Childress and to a lesser extent, forward Tom Garlepp and captain Ben Madgen.
With a season high of 3 assists, Perry will need to mimic Wilbekin's style - penetrate and kick-out to his shooters, whilst keeping the defense honest for a potential drive. As a point guard he needs to take control of the tempo for the Kings and try and push for quick, high percentage, transition buckets - easier said than done.
His contribution as an import has thus-far not gone to plan and he maybe running out of opportunities before there is a shakeup in the starting 5. You do not bring in Josh Childress to miss the play-offs. If there was ever a chance to shine, it is Thursday night. No pressure, Kendrick.
What To Watch For
Who's the Alpha Male?
Look for the Taipans to be super aggressive and niggly with the Kings, who last week were close to another melee. The Kings offense has been passive outside of Childress, who will be double-teamed with regularity - This will force the pressure onto his teammates who have not be up to the challenge in this early part of the season.
If the Taipans can assert their physical dominance, they have the skill set to win this game comfortably. Wilbekin wont play three straight poor games and neither will Stephen Weigh. With sixth-man Cam Tragardh piling on the points off the bench, this team has the fire power to match anybody in the league.
Josh Childress is going to need off-season surgery on his back from carrying this team. He has been the key component in each of their victories and is in dire need of some support to help the cause. The Taipans have been the best squad in the NBL this year (though Perth would top my Power Rankings) and should be too much for a Sydney side that lacks punch.
Taipans by 8